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G.    P.    GOOCH 









Shortly  after  Lord  Courtney's  death  I  accepted  Lady 
Courtney's  request  to  write  his  life.  While  hghtening  my 
labour  in  every  possible  way  and  allowing  me  to  make 
unrestricted  use  of  her  Journal,  she  has  left  me  an  absolutely 
free  hand  in  the  selection  of  material  and  the  expression  of 
opinion.  To  her,  to  Mrs.  Oliver,  Lord  Courtney's  sister,  and 
to  Professor  George  Unwin,  for  eight  years  his  secretary, 
I  am  indebted  for  reading  the  book  in  proof  and  for  valuable 
criticisms  and  suggestions. 

Relations  and  friends  have  earned  my  gratitude  by  their 
ready  response  to  appeals  for  assistance,  and  I  regret  that 
the  exigencies  of  space  have  prevented  the  use  of  all  the 
information  and  comment  which  have  been  supplied.  His 
oldest  surviving  friend,  Mr.  William  Stebbing,  compiled  a 
brief  memoir  of  the  highest  value,  from  which  I  have  made 
copious  extracts.  The  Master  of  St.  John's  has  kindly 
examined  the  College  books  for  the  details  of  his  academic 
career,  while  Dr.  Liveing,  Dr.  Bonney  and  Mrs.  Bushell 
have  supplied  personal  recollections  of  the  young  Cambridge 
student.  Mr.  William  Latey  has  investigated  his  connection 
with  the  Hardwicke  Society  in  its  earliest  days,  and  Sir 
Edward  Clarke  has  given  me  his  impressions  of  his  share 
in  its  debates.  The  Times  has  generously  permitted  me 
to  reveal  Leonard  Courtney's  authorship  of  many  of  its 
leading  articles,  and  Sir  J.  Thursfield  and  Dean  Wace  have 
answered   questions   relating   to    Printing    House    Square. 



Lord  Fitzmaurice  has  described  the  activities  of  the  Radical 
Club,  of  which  Mill,  Fawcett  and  Dilke  were  the  leading 
spirits.  The  Rt.  Hon.  Thomas  Burt  and  Lord  Northboume 
have  recorded  their  recollections  of  the  Disraeli  Parhament, 
and  Sir  Algernon  West  and  Lord  Eversley  of  his  work  at 
the  Treasury.  In  addition  to  pronouncing  judgement  on 
the  Chairman  of  Committees,  Mr.  Arthur  Elliot  has  recalled 
the  more  peaceful  atmosphere  of  the  Breakfast  Club,  which 
has  also  found  an  appreciative  chronicler  in  Sir  Courtenay 
Ilbert.  The  feasts  of  reason  at  the  Pohtical  Economy 
Club  have  been  celebrated  by  Sir  John  Macdonell,  Sir 
Bernard  Mallet  and  Mr,  Henry  Higgs.  Mr.  Humphreys 
has  supplied  information  on  the  revival  of  the  campaign 
for  Proportional  Representation  in  1904,  the  Rt.  Hon. 
J.  W.  Gulland  on  the  candidature  for  West  Edinburgh,  and 
Lord  Parmoor  on  the  closing  years  in  the  House  of  Lords. 
If  this  biography  succeeds  in  suggesting  the  personality 
of  its  subject  it  will  be  owing  in  large  measure  to  the  contri- 
butions of  Mrs.  Oliver  and  Miss  Julyan,  Mrs.  Crump  and 
Mr.  Arthur  Roby,  Mr.  Herbert  Paul  and  Professor  Alfred 
Marshall,  Professor  Unwin  and  Col.  Amery,  M.P.,  Mr.  Basil 
Williams  and  Mrs.  Fischer  Williams,  Miss  Mary  Meinertz- 
hagen  and  Mrs.  Robin  Mayor. 

For  permission  to  publish  their  letters  my  best  thanks 
are  due  to  Viscount  Morley,  O.M.,  who  has  kindly  allowed 
me  to  consult  him  on  various  points  ;  Viscount  Bryce,  O.M. ; 
Viscount  Haldane,  O.M. ;  Viscount  Grey  of  Fallodon,  the 
Rt.  Hon.  H.  H.  Asquith,  the  Rt.  Hon.  Augustine  Birrell, 
Lord  Fitzmaurice,  Lord  Channing,  the  Rt.  Hon.  Sir  Edward 
Clarke,  the  Rt.  Hon.  Gerald  Balfour,  General  Smuts,  the 
Rt.  Hon.  J.  X.  Merriman,  the  Hon,  Arthur  ElHot,  Mr. 
Frederic  Harrison,  Mr,  William  Stebbing,  Mr.  Herbert 
Paul,  Professor  GUbert  Murray,  the  Rev.  Stephen  Gladstone, 
Mr.    Aneurin   Williams,    M.P.,    Mr.    H.    W.    Massingham, 


Mr.  G.  M,  Trevelyan,  Mrs.  Fawcett,  Lady  Frances  Balfour, 
Miss  Emily  Hobhouse  and  Mrs.  J.  R.  Green.  The  repre- 
sentatives of  Courtney's  correspondents  who  have  passed 
away  have  responded  to  my  requests  with  equal  generosity. 
Viscount  Gladstone,  the  Marquess  of  Salisbury,  the  Rt.  Hon. 
Austen  Chamberlain,  M.P.,  the  Duke  of  Devonshire,  Earl 
Grey,  Earl  Spencer,  the  Marquess  of  Ripon,  Viscount 
Goschen,  Sir  George  Welby,  Judge  Gwynne- James,  Sir 
Wilfrid  Lawson,  Mr.  Leslie  Scott,  K.C.,  M.P.,  Mr.  Leonard 
Huxley,  the  O'Conor  Don,  Mr.  Arthur  Roby,  Mr.  William 
Caine,  Mrs.  Perceval,  Mrs.  Selous,  Mrs.  Andrew  Carnegie, 
Mrs.  Rathbone,  Mrs.  Simeon,  Mrs.  Wilbraham  Cooper,  the 
Hon.  Mrs.  Mellor,  Mrs.  Skilbeck,  Miss  Mundella,  Miss 
Estelle  Stead,  Mrs.  Moberly  Bell,  and  Mrs.  T.  B.  Bolitho, 
have  earned  my  gratitude  by  permitting  me  to  use  letters 
of  their  relatives  over  the  publication  of  which  they  possess 
legal  control.  I  am  also  indebted  to  Lord  Pentland  for 
allowing  me  to  print  some  characteristic  letters  of  Sir 
Henry  Campbell  -  Bannerman,  to  Mr.  John  Murray  for 
permission  to  publish  a  note  from  Robert  Browning,  and 
to  Herbert  Spencer's  Trustees. 

G.  P.  G, 

March  1920. 



1.  Penzance        ..... 

2.  Cambridge 

3.  Lincoln's  Inn        .... 

4.  Politics,  Economics  and  Journalism 

5.  Printing  House  Square 

6.  Travel,  Study  and  Friendships 

7.  The  House  of  Commons 

8.  The  Treasury  Bench 

9.  Marriage 

10.  Resignation  . 

11.  The  Sudan    . 

12.  Home  Rule    . 

13.  Chairman  of  Committees     . 

14.  Above  the  Battle 

15.  The  Speaker's  Chair    . 

16.  The  Shadow  of  Imperialism 

17.  The  Bursting  of  the  Storm 

18.  The  South  African  War     . 

19.  The  Last  Phase    . 














20.  Cheyne  Walk 438 

21.  Tariff  Reform      .         .         ...         .         .         .         .478 

22.  The  House  of  Lords   .         .    " 509 

23.  Entangling  Alliances 547 

24.  Armageddon 577 

Index 621 


A  Portrait  of  Lord  Courtney  from  a  Photograph  by 

Elliott  &  Fry  .......  Frontispiece 

Which  is  the  "  Sage  of  Chelsea  "  ?    ....  Face  page  -^^lo 



On  February  20,  1901,  Leonard  Courtney  dictated  some 
recollections  of  his  boyhood.  Though  already  in  his  sixty- 
ninth  year,  his  memory  was  singularly  tenacious  ;  and  the 
biographer  is  fortunate  in  possessing  a  record  at  once  so 
vivid  and  so  detailed  of  the  earliest  stages  of  his  career.^ 

"  My  father  was  bom  in  Ilfracombe,  as  his  father  and 
grandfather  and  other  forbears  before  him.  Nearly  forty 
years  ago  I  examined  the  parish  register  and  found  that, 
with  very  little  difficulty,  the  Une  could  be  traced  back 
about  two  centuries.  They  were  modest  townfolk,  fre- 
quently ship -masters  and  probably  owning  in  part  or 
altogether  the  craft  they  sailed.  My  great  -  grandfather 
was  thus  the  captain  of  a  small  vessel.  My  grandfather 
was  lame  from  his  youth  through  one  leg  being  shorter 
than  the  other,  and  he  obtained  an  appointment  as  officer 
in  the  Excise.  His  wife  was  a  Cotton,  daughter  of  a  family 
long  settled  in  north  and  east  Cornwall,  producing  from 
time  to  time  a  clergyman  or  doctor,  but  in  the  main  farm- 
ing from  father  to  son.  I  think  my  grandfather  and  grand- 
mother must  have  met  at  Stratton,  where  she  had  relations  ; 
but  he  took  her  to  Ilfracombe,  where,  as  I  have  said,  my 
father  was  bom.  My  grandfather  was  presently  moved  to 
Bristol,  where  other  children  were  bom.  He  was  never  to 
my  knowledge  intemperate ;  but  he  was  a  clubbable  man 
after  the  type  of  the  eighteenth  century,  strong  and  clear 

^  The  narrative  has  been  sUghtly  abridged  and  broken  up  into  para- 

I  B 


in  his  grasp  of  things,  terse  and  vigorous  in  expression 
when  he  met  his  friends  at  the  tavern  and  discussed  the 
affairs  of  town  and  country.  My  grandmother,  a  quiet, 
home-keeping  little  woman,  must  soon  have  learnt  the 
pressure  of  indebtedness ;  and  before  her  eldest  son  was 
many  years  old,  he  shared  her  experiences  and  Ughtened 
them  with  sympathy  if  not  otherwise.  I  think  throughout 
Kfe  he  carried  with  him  the  marks  of  this  early  education. 
He  had  a  great  horror  of  debt.  As  a  married  man  he 
practically  never  went  abroad  ;  and  there  was  a  reserve,  a 
silence,  a  caution  in  the  expression  of  opinion  which  strongly 
contrasted  with  the  bold  and  combative  qualities  of  my 
grandfather's  temperament.  The  family  hved  on  in  Bristol 
several  years,  and  my  father,  taken  away  early  from  school, 
got  emplo5mient  as  a  clerk  in  a  succession  of  merchants' 
offices.  He  did  not,  however,  cease  to  educate  himself. 
Nature  had  given  him  under  all  his  reserves  the  sensibihties 
and  tastes  of  an  artist.  He  read  whatever  he  could  put  his 
hands  upon,  and  I  have  heard  him  tell  how  for  three  suc- 
cessive days  he  practically  went  without  his  dinner  to  read" 
one  of  Scott's  novels,  just  out,  which  he  had  a  chance  to 
devour  at  his  dinner-time.  As  a  lad  in  Bristol  he  began  to 
play  the  vioUn,  and  music  remained  the  solace  of  his  Hfe. 

"  The  difficulties  of  the  Bristol  home  did  not  grow  less, 
and  somewhere  about  1823  it  was  broken  up  altogether. 
The  appointment  in  the  Excise  was  lost,  and  the  whole 
family  removed  to  Falmouth,  where  my  grandfather  set 
up  a  private  school,  my  father  for  some  time  assisting  him 
and  obtaining  supplementary  employment  as  accountant  or 
book-keeper  to  tradesmen  and  others  wanting  assistance. 
This  led  to  his  moving  a  few  years  later  to  Penzance.  An 
adventurous  Unen-draper  had  come  from  one  of  the  remote 
centres  of  English  activity  and  started  shops  in  two  or 
three  of  the  Cornish  towns,  with  Penzance  as  his  head- 
quarters ;  and  my  father  joined  him  as  accountant  at 
Penzance,  making  business  visits  to  the  other  places.  It 
was  there  he  met  my  mother.  She  was  a  native  of  Scilly, 
where  her  father  was  drowned,  leaving  a  widow  and  three 
daughters,  the  oldest,  my  mother,  barely  four  years  old. 


Her  mother  was  a  woman  of  parts,  quick  intelligence  and 
self-reliance.  She  hved  long  enough  to  read  the  story  of 
Adam  Bede,  taking  great  delight  in  Mrs.  Poyser.  The 
widow's  resources  were  of  the  smallest ;  but  she  bravely 
faced  the  world  by  opening  a  small  shop  for  groceries,  by 
means  of  which  she  maintained  herself  and  reared  her 
children.  It  is  an  illustration  of  the  simpUcity  and  frugality 
of  Ufe  in  the  Scilly  Islands,  about  the  time  of  the  close 
of  the  Great  War,  that  my  mother  has  told  me  that  she 
and  other  children  were  taught  to  write  by  tracing  letters 
in  sand.  A  submissive  piety  was  the  note  of  the  house- 
hold ;  and  in  the  later  years  in  which  I  knew  it  (the  two 
daughters  remaining  at  home)  it  was  their  custom  to  read 
the  Bible  through  year  by  year  at  the  rate  of  two  or  three 
chapters  a  day.  My  mother,  the  eldest,  was  sent  to  Pen- 
zance, where  she  grew  up  and  became  an  assistant  in  the 
shop  in  which  my  father  was  accountant.  Their  marriage 
was  most  happy  for  both.  My  father's  larger  experience 
must  doubtless  have  had  an  attraction,  and  his  appearance 
was  unlike  other  men.  He  had  long  black  hair  falling  back 
from  a  very  sloping  forehead,  an  aquiUne  nose,  and  a  saUow 
complexion.  He  was  broad-chested  and  strong,  but  with 
limbs  that  seemed  to  move  together  (in  which  respect  Mr. 
Goschen  has  sometimes  reminded  me  of  him)  ;  and  a  casual 
observer  might  be  excused  if,  seeing  him  play  the  violin,  he 
thought  he  might  be  a  Jewish  musician.  My  mother,  on 
the  other  hand,  had  a  rather  bonny  EngUsh  face  ;  whilst 
her  nature,  pious,  dutiful  and  loving,  yet  with  some  sense 
of  humour  and  a  large  measure  of  economic  aptitude,  made 
her  the  best  of  wives  for  her  husband  and  a  most  beloved 
mother.  In  trying  to  reaHse  the  circumstances  of  the  pair 
I  feel  that  they  had  great  faith  when  they  set  up  their  small 
household.  My  father  had  not,  I  think,  wholly  given  up 
his  work  with  the  adventurous  linen-draper ;  but  before  I 
was  bom  he  had  set  up  a  small  day-school,  for  which,  indeed, 
he  was  admirably  quahfied. 

"  I  was  bom  at  Penzance  on  July  6,  1832,  my  parents* 
first  child.  An  old  friend,  not  long  dead,  who  must  have 
been  a  favourite  pupil,  has  told  me  how  he  had  a  glass  of 


wine  given  him  to  drink  my  health  on  the  occasion  of  my 
birth,  I  cannot  remember  anything  connected  with  my 
father's  school,  partly  because,  when  my  eldest  sister 
succeeded  me,  I  was  soon  removed  to  my  grandfather's  at 
Fahnouth,  where  I  spent  the  greater  part  of  some  five 
years,  and  partly  because,  before  that  time  had  passed,  my 
father  had  given  up  school-keeping  and  had  become  cashier 
in  the  Bolithos'  Bank,  where,  with  increasing  responsibility, 
he  remained  aU  the  active  years  of  his  Hfe.  I  must  have 
been  between  five  and  six  when  I  was  brought  back  to 
Penzance  to  remain  permanently  at  home.^  My  uncle  and 
godfather,  Leonard,  was  a  navigating  officer  on  board  the 
Briseis,  one  of  the  lo-gun  brigs  which  in  those  days  carried 
the  mails  from  England  to  Halifax.  My  earliest  recollec- 
tions are  associated  with  him.  The  brigs  had  an  unhappy 
notoriety  in  that  one  of  them  disappeared  almost  every 
winter ;  and  there  was  a  continual  anxiety  over  every 
prolonged  voyage,  hope  gradually  dying  away  and  at  last 
giving  place  to  despair.  The  Briseis  disappeared  in  this 
fashion,  among  the  results  being  a  complete  change  in  my 
grandfather's  household  and  my  return  to  Penzance.  It  is 
an  illustration  of  my  absence  from  home  that  I  remember 
being  presented  to  my  father  on  my  return  and  looking 
upon  him  with  curiosity  as  a  complete  stranger,  not  in  the 
least  like  the  men  to  whom  I  was  accustomed. 

"  From  this  time  forward  I  lived  whoUy  at  Penzance, 
never  going  farther  than  Falmouth,  to  which  I  paid  fre- 
quent Christmas  visits,  until  my  nineteenth  year,  when  I 
went  to  Cambridge.  For  seven  years  or  more  we  Uved  in 
the  Bank  House.  My  father  was  a  very  home-keeping 
man,  and  his  love  of  music  was  the  only  thing  that  drew 
him  away  from  his  fireside.  He  was  a  member  of  a  small 
society  which  for  several  winters  gave  philharmonic  con- 
certs in  the  Assembly  Rooms  ;  and  when  this  society  was 
broken  up  the  parish  organist  arranged  concerts  in  sub- 
sequent winters  to  which  my  father  gave  his  assistance.    In 

^  As  Margaret  Courtney  was  bom  nearly  two  years  after  her  brother, 
Leonard  must  either  have  spent  three  years  at  Falmouth  or  have  returned 
to  Penzance  at  the  age  of  seven  or  eight. 


later  years  a  choral  society  was  established  and  flourished ; 
but  at  the  time  of  which  I  speak  the  philharmonic  concerts 
held  their  own  though  with  some  difficulty.  My  father 
used  to  take  me  to  these  concerts  from  about  my  ninth  or 
tenth  year.  They  were  always  arranged  on  the  same  plan  : 
the  programme  contained  two  parts,  each  beginning  with 
an  overture  from  some  opera  of  Mozart,  Donizetti  or 
Rossini,  and  more  rarely  Weber,  or  a  s5rmphony  or  sonata, 
when  Haydn  most  frequently  appeared,  perhaps  a  violin 
solo  and  a  couple  of  songs,  I  must  confess  that  although 
I  generally  kept  awake  during  the  first  part,  I  generally  fell 
asleep  during  the  overture  which  began  the  second.  Except 
for  this  relaxation  my  father's  home-keeping  was  complete, 
his  hours  out  of  the  bank  being  occupied  with  books  and 
the  education  of  his  children,  to  whom  his  sympathy  was  a 
constant  stimulus. 

"  The  only  school  to  which  I  must  refer  is  that  to  which 
I  went  from  nine  to  thirteen  and  a  half,  when  I  left  school. 
It  was  kept  by  a  Mr.  Barnes  with  a  couple  of  ushers,  and 
had  something  like  a  hundred  boys,  three-fourths  or  more 
being  day  scholars,  and  the  rest  sons  of  farmers  and  yeomen 
in  west  Cornwall.  The  parents  of  most  of  the  boys  were 
Wesleyans ;  but  the  divisions  of  sects  were  not  in  those 
days  very  sharply  accentuated,  and  the  religious  education 
may  be  said  to  have  been  taken  for  granted.  I  remember 
no  special  instruction  whatever ;  and  as  there  were  some 
three  or  four  Jews  among  the  rest  who  were  never  to  my 
knowledge  separated  from  their  feUows,  I  suspect  I  am 
right  in  saying  there  was  no  reUgious  teaching  in  the  school, 
it  being  assumed  that  each  day  boy  was  properly  instructed 
at  home.  About  two-thirds  of  the  boys  received  a  plain 
Enghsh  education  ;  the  remaining  third  were  taught  Latin 
and  some  Uttle  Greek,  while  French  was  an  optional  sub- 
ject for  which  there  was  a  special  French  master  giving  us 
part  of  his  time  at  an  extra  fee.  I  was  on  the  Enghsh  side 
till  I  was  about  twelve,  when  I  had  practically  got  to  the 
top  of  the  Enghsh  boys,  being  by  that  time  well  advanced 
in  Euchd  and  taking  up  algebra,  though  with  very  httle 
understanding  of  it.     I  must  have  begun  French  whilst 


still  on  the  English  side  ;  but  it  would  have  been  astonish- 
ing if  much  had  been  learnt,  for  no  subject  could  be  more 
negligently  treated  by  pupils  and  master, 

"  I  think  I  must  have  been  just  twelve  when  I  began 
Latin  and,  of  course,  I  was  at  first  among  much  younger 
boys.  But  I  advanced  very  rapidly  and  was  soon  among 
those  at  the  top.  The  school  was  easy-going,  but  the  tone 
was  on  the  whole  good  and  the  boys  honest  children  of  the 
middle  class.  I  had  an  abundance  of  multifarious  reading 
at  home,  and  one  of  my  school-fellows  and  myseK  were 
energetic  enough  to  imdertake  some  work  out  of  school. 
This  was  in  the  summer  of  1844.  Readers  of  Carlyle's 
Life  of  Sterling  may  remember  a  certain  Polytechnic  Society, 
estabhshed  at  Falmouth  mainly  through  the  influence  of  the 
Fox  family,  with  a  museum,  lectures  and  an  annual  exhibi- 
tion. This  exhibition  was  in  those  days,  as  to  some  extent 
it  still  is,  a  great  incentive  to  mental  activity  in  Cornwall. 
Artists  sent  their  work,  engineers  and  inventors  their  minia- 
ture machines,  women  needlework  and  embroidery  of  all 
kinds,  and  schoolboys  specimens  of  their  progress  in  map- 
ping and  otherwise.  My  friend  and  myself  conceived  the 
idea  of  making  out  parallel  chronological  tables  of  the 
world's  history,  for  which  we  had  the  good  fortune  to 
receive  books,  one  of  which,  falling  to  my  share,  I  still 
cherish.  Encouraged  by  this,  we  undertook  a  larger  enter- 
prise in  the  following  year — ^no  less  than  a  S5mthetic  history 
of  Cornwall,  compiled  from  the  various  existing  histories 
with  scanty  additions  our  own  knowledge  furnished.  It 
was  an  audacious  attempt.  I  attended  the  exhibition 
(1845)  and  passed  through  the  grim  experience  of  hstening 
in  the  body  of  the  hall  to  a  severe  criticism  of  owi  work  by 
the  judge  of  this  branch  on  the  platform. 

"  Another  circumstance  connected  with  my  school  Ufe 
must  be  mentioned,  as  it  practically  shaped  all  the  course 
of  my  later  years.  We  had  annual  examinations  at  the 
school  in  which  gentlemen  of  the  town  and  neighbourhood 
were  asked  to  come  and  test  the  work  of  the  boys.  I  think 
it  must  have  been  in  the  summer  of  1845  that  Dr.  Willan,  a 
Cambridge  graduate,  residing  but  scarcely  practising  in  the 


town,  came  to  an  examination.  He  was  attracted  by  my 
mastery  of  Euclid  and  perhaps  something  more,  and  showed 
a  desire  to  assist  me  in  going  further.  Some  months  later 
having,  as  I  have  hinted,  but  httle  practice,  he  began  to  take 
youths  to  read  with  him  two  or  three  evenings  a  week  in 
classics  and  mathematics  ;  and  it  was  natural  that  I  should 
be  one  of  his  first  pupils.  At  Christmas  1845  I  left  school  and 
entered  the  bank ;  but  it  was  arranged  by  my  father  that 
I  should  do  no  evening  work,  which  portion  of  the  day  I 
gave  up  alternately  to  reading  with  Dr.  Willan  and  study 
at  home.  From  Christmas  1845  to  Midsummer  1851  my 
life  was  thus  passed,  with  never  a  break  exceeding  a  fort- 
night, I  think  I  might  say  a  week,  working  at  the  bank 
during  the  day,  and  for,  or  with.  Dr.  Willan  in  the  evening. 

"  These  five  years  and  a  half  of  outwardly  uneventful 
life  were  of  the  greatest  importance  in  my  growth  and 
upbringing.  As  we  had  lived  in  the  Bank  House  and  I 
had  often  watched  my  father's  work,  I  started  with  a 
considerable  acquaintance  with  the  routine  of  banking,  and 
soon  became  familiar  with  its  details.  I  could  turn  my 
hand  to  anything,  and  if  the  old  books  could  be  inspected 
my  handwriting  would  be  detected  up  and  down  except  in 
the  posting  of  ledgers,  to  which  I  think  I  was  never  ad- 
mitted. Somehow  or  other — it  seems  strange  to  me  now — 
the  correspondence  of  the  place  gradually  fell  upon  me. 
Perhaps  I  may  mention  an  illustration  of  my  bank  service 
which  must  have  happened  in  the  years  1849  and  1850,  of 
which  I  still  remain  proud.  The  bank  was  understaffed, 
especially  owing  to  the  bad  health  of  a  partner  who  was 
supposed  to  give  active  personal  assistance ;  and  the  con- 
sequence was  that  the  proper  balancing  of  the  bank's 
accounts  with  its  London  agents,  so  as  to  explain  the 
apparent  discrepancy  between  the  accounts  as  kept  in  the 
bank-books  and  the  accounts  as  rendered  by  their  agents, 
had  fallen  into  arrear.  This  was  a  negUgence  that  could 
go  on  for  a  long  time  without  impairing  the  general  good 
management  of  a  bank,  and  I  remember  we  had  some 
evidence  that  a  similar  negligence  must  have  occurred  in 
the  management  of  another  bank  then  and  now  of  high 


repute  in  another  county.  It  was,  however,  a  bit  of  a 
private  scandal,  and  I  set  myself  to  work  to  make  out  the 
formal  reconciUation  of  the  two  sets  of  accounts — I  may 
say  of  the  four  sets,  because  we  had  in  fact  two  agents  in 
London  and  the  balances  had  not  been  properly  adjusted 
in  respect  of  either.  I  took  one  in  hand  and  patiently 
went  over  the  transactions  half-year  by  half-year,  making 
the  balances  again  at  the  end  of  every  six  months,  till  I 
brought  down  the  work  to  a  triumphant  close.  It  was  an 
exercise  of  merely  careful  patience  and  assiduity,  a  pains- 
taking monotony  of  work  ;  but  it  was  undertaken  with  the 
simple  desire  to  remove  irregularities,  and  it  proved  useful 
in  bringing  to  hght  one  or  two  errors  which  had  been  over- 
looked. I  had  £5  given  me  for  this  performance,  and, 
looking  back  upon  it,  I  think  the  honorarium  was  well 
deserved.  But  the  work  was  certainly  not  undertaken 
with  the  view  of  any  such  reward,  which  I  received,  indeed, 
as  something  unexpected.  I  have  sometimes  wondered 
what  would  have  happened  if  I  had  continued  as  banker's 
clerk.  I  might  perhaps  have  foUowed  my  father  in  Pen- 
zance, or,  Hke  my  next  brother,  I  might  have  been  stirred 
to  activity  in  some  similar  field  and  perhaps  have  drifted 
into  bank  management  in  the  East,  in  the  Colonies  or 
even  in  London.  My  brother  Mortimer  has  ended  by 
becoming  the  permanent  head  of  the  Treasury  at  Ottawa. 
I  might  perhaps  have  attained  to  some  well-paid  post  in 
the  banking  world  ;  but  though  I  have  ever  retained  the 
greatest  respect  for  banking  and  bankers,  I  have  never 
regretted  the  abandonment  of  the  chance  of  acquiring  a 
more  lucrative  position  than  has  ever  fallen  to  me. 

"  My  bank  work  nominally  absorbed  the  day  from  9 
to  4,  but  not  unfrequently  overflowed  these  hours.  Three 
evenings  a  week  I  went  to  Dr.  WiUan  for  a  couple  of  hours, 
and  the  other  three  I  was  supposed  to  be  reading  for  him. 
We  divided  our  time  between  classics  and  mathematics, 
I  loved  EucUd,  and  was  so  expert  in  geometry  that  I  believe 
I  solved  every  problem  in  deduction  appended  to  Pott's 
EucHd.  I  naturally  took  kindly  to  geometrical  conic  sec- 
tions and  to  trigonometry.     With  algebra   I   did  not  so 


easily  become  familiar,  but  ever5rthing  relating  to  numbers 
I  got  under  command,  and  I  was  ever  fascinated  with  the 
elements  of  the  Theory  of  Probabilities.  Into  Analytical 
Geometry  I  may  be  said  only  to  have  looked.  It  was  not 
till  after  I  went  to  Cambridge,  and  there,  as  it  seemed,  by 
some  sudden  penetration  into  a  new  world,  that  I  became 
in  any  way  a  master  of  the  methods  of  this  latter  learning. 
I  read  also  with  Dr.  Willan  the  elements  of  mechanics,  and 
I  even  opened  the  pages  of  the  more  familiar  books  of 
Newton's  Principia.  It  may  be  gathered  that  without  any 
pretensions  to  real  mathematical  genius,  to  which  I  know 
I  can  make  no  claim,  I  was  going  to  the  fuU  length  of  the 
lead  which  my  beloved  tutor  could  give  me.  In  classical 
learning  he  would  have  led  me  much  further  than  I  really 
went,  and  I  am  afraid  I  must  accuse  myself  of  some  want 
of  assiduity  on  this  side.  We  read,  indeed,  Latin  together 
until  I  got  a  real  satisfaction  in  some  of  its  hterature.  I 
had  read  some  Caesar  at  school,  and  with  Dr.  Willan  I 
took  up  Sallust,  some  Livy  and  some  Tacitus,  the  Germania 
and  Agricola  of  the  last  exciting  my  strong  admiration. 
We  read  Horace  and  Virgil  among  the  poets,  but  for  the 
latter  I  had  then  no  liking.  We  went  through  also  some 
half-dozen  of  Juvenal's  Satires,  the  Catiline  Orations  of 
Cicero,  and  the  De  Senectute  and  De  Amicitia.  I  may 
perhaps  venture  to  say  that  I  felt  a  real  sympathy  with  the 
Roman  character,  which  led  me  in  later  years  to  take  up 
other  books,  including  the  De  Rerum  Natura,  with  its 
intermixture  of  noble  and  stately  verse  with  the  baldest 
prosaic  argument.  I  never  got  any  real  facihty  in  Greek, 
and,  though  we  tried  many  authors,  even  attacking  several 
plays,  I  did  not  get  any  real  enjoyment  except  in  Herodotus 
and  Homer.  The  outcome  of  all  the  hours  I  gave  to  Greek 
then  and  later  may  be  best  understood  by  the  confession 
that,  knowing  the  Authorised  Version  well,  I  could  pretty 
easily  stumble  along  in  the  Greek  Testament. 

"  I  had  the  run  of  the  Penzance  Library,  even  then  fairly 
stocked  with  the  best  EngUsh  literature,  and  a  friend  of 
my  father  left  imder  his  charge  his  own  books  whilst  in 
Brazil.     Of  these  too  I  had  free  range.     They  included  the 

10  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Waverley  Novels  and  Lockhart's  Scott ;  and  I  think  any 
taste  I  may  have  for  fine  books  may  be  traced  to  copies 
of  Lane's  Arabian  Nights  and  Farrell'  s  British  Birds  and 
British  Fishes,  which  were  in  this  collection.  Much  miscel- 
laneous reading  was  thus  accomplished,  though  looking 
back  upon  it  I  may  perhaps  regret  that  there  was  not 
more  guidance  directing  my  path.  There  was  in  those 
days  also  a  Literary  Institution  in  Penzance,  at  which 
during  the  winter  months  there  were  weekly  lectures 
occupjdng  about  an  hour,  followed  by  discussions  for  about 
another  hour.  I  used  to  go  home  after  these  lectures  and 
give  my  father  and  mother  a  sufficiently  animated  report 
of  what  had  happened.  My  father  himself  never  went, 
although  on  at  least  one  occasion  he  lectured  himself, 
taking  for  his  subject  Carlyle's  Past  and  Present.  This 
Institution  was  greatly  strengthened  by  the  arrival  in 
Penzance  of  WiUiam  Willis,  who  presently  joined  the 
Society  and  lectured  to  our  great  advantage  on  several 
branches  of  Natural  Science.  This  admirable  man  was  by 
birth  a  member  of  the  Society  of  Friends  ;  but  having 
married  out  of  the  Society  he  became,  according  to  the  rule 
then  obtaining,  excluded  from  it.  He  etched  and  pub- 
lished drawings  of  aU  the  antiquities  in  the  immediate 
neighbourhood  of  Penzance,  and  his  knowledge  and  taste 
and  simple  gentle  manners  strongly  attracted  me.  After  a 
time  he  started  a  botanical  class,  in  the  spring  and  summer 
getting  a  few  of  us  youths  to  rise  early  in  the  morning  and 
accompany  him  before  breakfast  along  the  lanes,  fields  and 
furzy  moors  of  the  neighbourhood,  while  he  discovered  to 
us  a  flora  tiU  then  unknown  and  perhaps  unsuspected.  He 
left  Penzance  about  the  same  time  that  I  did,  and  presented 
me  with  pretty  nearly  a  complete  set  of  his  etchings,  which 
I  still  preserve. 

"  I  had  naturally  some  friends  and  associates,  but  look- 
ing back  on  the  time  they  seem  to  me  to  have  been  very 
few.  I  have  said  that  my  father  went  very  httle  abroad, 
and  we  were  as  a  family  very  home-keeping ;  so  that  my 
elder  sister  may  perhaps  be  said  to  be  more  associated  with 
my  reading  and  education  than  any  other  person  of  the 


same  age.  I  recall,  however,  three  lads  who,  during  the 
latter  part  of  my  time,  were  in  the  habit  of  taking  walks 
on  Smiday  afternoons,  when  some  volume  was  brought  and 
read  in  turns  by  us  in  some  secluded  comer  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  the  town.  They  were  all  older  than  myself. 
One  of  them,  Richard  Ohver,  emigrated  to  Melbourne  in 
1854,  whence  after  a  few  years  he  moved  to  Dunedin,  New 
Zealand,  became  very  successful  as  a  merchant,  as  a  sheep 
farmer,  and,  indeed,  in  many  forms  of  Colonial  activity, 
becoming  among  other  things  a  member  of  the  Legislative 
Assembly  and  the  Legislative  Council,  Postmaster-General 
and  Minister  of  Public  Works.  Having  married  as  his 
second  wife  my  youngest  sister  in  1885,  our  intercourse, 
which  was  never  broken,  has  again  become  extremely 
intimate,  especially  since  he  has  returned  to  make  England 
his  home.^ 

"  It  is  time  to  say  something  of  our  readings,  which  were 
almost  exclusively  of  poetry.  I  had  in  early  boyhood  taken 
to  Scott  mainly  for  his  spirited  narrative.  Thus  I  hastened 
through  Marmion  without  reading  the  Introduction  to  the 
Cantos,  which  now  gives  me  more  delight  than  the  Cantos 
themselves.  My  father  had  given  me  the  collected  edition 
of  Byron  in  one  volume  when  I  was  about  fourteen,  and  I 
had  read  most  of  the  book.  Pocket  volumes  of  Shakespeare 
I  had  also  taken  about  with  me  in  country  walks,  though  to 
tell  the  truth  the  result  was  rather  a  succes  d'estime.  My 
father  had  also  subscribed  for  Chambers'  Cyclopaedia  of 
English  Literature  when  it  was  first  published  in  monthly 
parts,  and  the  book  was  a  great  favourite  with  me.  Our 
Sunday  afternoon  readings  were  given  to  larger  acquaint- 
ance with  particular  authors.  We  went  through  Milton's 
Paradise  Lost,  and  no  respect  for  his  great  name,  nor 
appreciation  of  his  high-strung  verse  could  prevent  us  from 
scoffing  at  the  wars  of  the  angels  and,  indeed,  at  not  a  little 
of  the  theology  of  the  book.  I  have  never,  indeed,  become 
a  great  admirer  of  Milton,  whom  we  English,  as  I  think, 
habitually  overrate.  We  read  Cowper's  Task  and  diversi- 
fied his  Poems  with  his  Letters,  to  the  merits  of  which 

^  The  Hon.  Richard  Oliver  died  in  1910. 

12  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

a  neighbouring  lecturer  at  the  Literary  Institution  had 
called  special  attention.  Wordsworth  in  the  same  way 
had  his  turn,  but  we  unluckily  gave  too  much  attention  to 
the  Excursion.  What  is  now  scarcely  credible,  we  read 
almost  all  Southey's  long  poems  ;  and  if  this  seems  to 
imply  a  very  imperfect  taste  I  may  perhaps  plead  that 
Thalaba  seems  to  have  been  the  poem  Scott  most 
frequently  called  for  in  his  Sunday  evenings  in  Castle 
Street.  Certain  it  is  that  we  did  enjoy  Southey,  and 
Modoc  not  the  least.  I  can  recall  the  glorious  summer 
day  when,  walking  across  a  furze-covered  moor,  the  story  of 
Madoc  in  the  West  got  mixed  with  the  glory  of  colour  and 
the  perfume  of  the  furze  with  which  it  is  still  associated. 
Tennyson's  Princess  was  one  of  our  latest  readings  in 
those  Sunday  walks ;  and  I  can  claim  for  ourselves  that 
the  beauty  of  this  poem  was  at  once  appreciated  and, 
indeed,  it  got  almost  immediately  re-read.  One  other  book 
might  perhaps  be  mentioned.  I  had  purchased  at  a  book- 
stall in  Penzance  market  a  copy  of  the  first  edition,  in  its 
original  boards,  of  Keats'  Lamia,  Isabella,  etc.  This  book, 
which  I  still  possess,  has  become  extremely  rare ;  but  we 
read  it  with  pleasure,  if  not  with  enthusiasm,  in  happy 
unconsciousness  that  it  could  ever  be  regarded  as  a  prize  by 
a  bibliophile. 

"  It  will  be  seen  that  apart  from  bank  work  and  work 
for  Dr.  Willan,  the  main  interest  of  my  early  Ufe  lay  in 
literature ;  and  it  may,  indeed,  appear  remarkable  how 
little  influence  the  outer  political  world  had  upon  one,  the 
greater  part  of  whose  work  in  Hfe  has  been  occupied  with 
pontics.  Penzance  itself  was  outside  the  poUtical  current, 
and  my  family  and  friends  were  apparently  in  the  stillest 
part  of  this  still  pool.  As  a  small  boy  I  had  been  at 
Falmouth  during  contested  elections  ;  but  the  experience 
reeked  of  bribery  and  of  unintelligible  personal  disputes. 
Similar  airs  seemed  to  hang  about  what  we  heard  of  election- 
eering at  St.  Ives.  In  the  County  Division  of  West  Corn- 
wall there  was  no  such  thing  as  a  contested  election  and  a 
poll  during  the  whole  of  its  existence  from  1832  to  1885, 
and  our  life  was  therefore  never  ruffled  by  the  agitations  of 


a  fight.  The  Repeal  of  the  Com  Laws  in  1846,  just  after 
I  left  school,  was,  however,  an  event  that  excited  emotion 
in  our  stiU  Ufe,  and  I  remember  having  to  read  to  my  father 
and  mother  the  report  of  Sir  Robert  Peel's  speech  in  making 
this  great  proposal.  I  should  add  that  my  father  was  one 
of  those  who,  having  passed  through  a  period  of  speculative 
activity  in  early  manhood,  become  sceptically  conservative 
in  later  years ;  and  his  example  did  not  stimulate  me  to 
feel  any  interest  in  poUtical  movements.  Nevertheless,  in 
less  than  two  years  after  the  Repeal  of  the  Corn  Laws  my 
companions,  whom  I  have  already  named,  and  myself  were 
much  excited  by  the  French  Revolution  of  1848,  heartily 
sympathising  with  the  rising  which  drove  Louis  Phihppe 
from  France  ;  ^  though  from  lack  of  knowledge  perhaps 
more  than  lack  of  feeling  we  were  less  stirred  by  the  move- 
ments in  Italy,  in  Hungary  and  in  Prussia.  Not  that  we 
were  left  whoUy  without  knowledge  of  the  wider  movements 
on  the  Continent.  From  my  earhest  memory  Chambers* 
Edinburgh  Journal,  as  it  was  then  called,  had  been  taken  in 
month  by  month.  To  its  eminently  sober  and  instructive 
pages  there  was  added  in  the  years  of  Revolution  the 
People's  Journal  and  afterwards  HowiU's  Journal ;  and  in 
these,  especially  in  the  latter,  we  were  introduced  to  the 
Republican  heroes  of  Europe.  Indifference  in  respect  of 
home  pontics  was  thus  not  incompatible  with  a  keen  sym- 
pathy for  much  of  the  Continental  movement. 

"  The  name  Howitt  in  this  last  connection  may  fitly 
introduce  another  field  of  reminiscence.  During  my  boy- 
hood the  Quakers  were  still  sufiiciently  numerous,  as  they 
certainly  were  distinguished  throughout  Cornwall.  The 
Foxes  of  Falmouth  were  centres  of  all  the  culture  of  the 
West.  My  father  had  somehow  become  friendly  with  one 
William  D5niiond  at  Penzance,  who  died  young,  leaving  a 

^  Courtney  recalled  the  events  and  emotions  of  184^  in  an  article  in 
the  Nation,  March  24,  1917  :  "  The  news  from  Russia  makes  me  hve 
again  in  days  gone  by.  I  recall  a  night,  seventy  years  ago  save  one, 
when  in  a  remote  corner  near  the  Land's  End  three  lads  met  together  to 
read  the  story  of  the  Revolution  which  had  burst  forth  in  Paris.  We  had 
before  us  a  weekly  paper,  the  News  of  the  World,  and  in  it  we  read  the 
magical,  swift-moving  story." 

14  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

widow  and  three  or  four  small  children  ;  and  I  suppose  he 
had  rendered  the  widow  some  small  assistance  in  winding 
up  her  husband's  affairs.  I  remember  being  taken  by  him 
to  her  house  one  evening  just  before  she  left  the  town,  when 
she  presented  him  as  a  parting  gift  with  a  copy  of  Jonathan 
Dymond's  Elements  of  Morality,  Jonathan  being  her  hus- 
band's brother.  About  the  same  time  my  sister  received 
as  a  present  Mary  Howitt's  httle  story  Strive  and  Thrive, 
and  gradually  the  complete  series  of  her  Tales  was  added 
one  by  one  to  our  possessions.  I  believe  they  might  be 
read  with  almost  equal  deUght  by  me  at  this  moment,  and 
together  they  constitute  a  real  education  in  sympathy  for 
honest,  hard-working,  simple,  small  people  which  can  never 
get  quite  old-fashioned.  A  schoolboy  possessed  William 
Howitt's  Boys'  Country  Book,  with  which  I  was  so  much 
pleased  that  my  earliest  savings  (they  were  few  and  very 
slowly  accumulated)  were  devoted  to  getting  a  copy  for 
myself.  I  am  telling  this  story  to  explain  something  of  the 
origin  of  my  Uking  for  Quakers,  which  led  me  when  about 
thirteen  or  fourteen  to  read  through  and  to  assimilate  much 
of  the  aforesaid  copy  of  Jonathan  Dymond's  Elements  of 

At  this  point  the  story  comes  to  an  end,  and,  though 
often  pressed  to  continue  his  narrative,  the  old  statesman 
was  never  again  in  the  autobiographical  mood.  To  this 
sketch  of  his  early  years  there  is  little  to  be  added.  The 
temperament  and  opinions  of  his  parents  wiU  appear  in  the 
correspondence  which  began  when  their  eldest  son  left 
home  at  the  age  of  nineteen.  John  Sampson  Courtney, 
bom  in  1803,  was  a  man  of  more  than  average  ability,  with 
a  gift  for  economics  and  finance  ;  but  the  cares  of  a  large 
family,  added  to  the  warning  example  of  his  light-hearted 
father,  rendered  him  unusually  reserved,  while  the  work  of 
the  bank  claimed  almost  the  whole  of  his  time  and  strength. 
His  only  relaxation  was  music,  and  his  favourite  hobby  was 
local  history,  a  taste  inherited  by  most  of  his  children.  He 
wrote  several  statistical  papers  in  the  Transactions  of  the 
Cornwall  Polytechnic  Society,  and  in  1845  he  published  a 


substantial  Guide  to  Penzance,  "  compiled,"  as  the  preface 
plaintively  records,  "  at  hours  snatched  from  necessary 
rest."  The  pages  on  the  history  of  the  town  were  the  fruit 
of  a  good  deal  of  research  ;  and  the  volume  was  enriched 
by  expert  contributions  on  the  geology  and  the  botany  of 
the  district.  Many  years  later,  when  over  seventy,  John 
Courtney  noted  down  some  recollections  of  Penzance  at  the 
time  of  his  arrival  in  the  'twenties ;  and,  being  prevented 
by  ill -health  from  preparing  them  for  publication,  he 
entrusted  them  to  his  youngest  daughter,  who  arranged  the 
material  and  published  it  in  1878  as  Half  a  Century  of  Pen- 
zance. In  1831  he  married  Sarah  Mortimer,  of  St.  Mary's, 
Scilly,  and  in  the  next  nineteen  years  six  sons  and  three 
daughters  were  bom.  Sarah  Courtney,  in  the  words  of 
her  eldest  son  already  quoted,  was  "  pious,  dutiful  and 
loving,  yet  with  some  sense  of  hiunour  and  a  large  measure 
of  economic  aptitude."  It  was  fortunate  that  she  was  a 
good  manager,  for  the  young  couple  were  hard  put  to  it  to 
make  both  ends  meet.  She  had  been  bred  in  straitened 
circumstances,  and  her  whole  time  and  thought  throughout 
Hfe  were  given  to  her  home  and  her  children.  For  the  wider 
interests  of  the  world  she  had  neither  leisure  nor  incHnation. 
Fortunately  for  the  young  couple,  Uving  at  Penzance  in 
the  'twenties  and  'thirties  was  simple  and  the  necessities  of 
hfe  were  cheap.  "  When  first  I  came  to  the  town  in  1825 
and  for  some  years  after,"  wrote  John  Courtney  in  old  age,^ 
"  beef  and  mutton  were  sold  at  from  3d.  to  4d.  a  pound ; 
in  1839  they  had  risen  to  6d.,  at  which  price  they  remained 
for  a  considerable  time.  Pork  was  2|d.  or  3d.  a  pound,  and 
had  risen  in  1839  to  4^d.  or  5|^d.  Fowls  were  never  more 
than  a  shiUing ;  eggs  when  plentiful  were  4d.  a  dozen,  and 
in  the  winter  went  up  to  yd.  Butter  was  yd.  and  8d.  in 
summer  and  a  shilling  in  winter.  Large  hakes  were  to  be 
had  for  6d.,  and  other  fish  in  proportion.  Vegetables  and 
fruit  were  equally  cheap."  The  mackerels  and  pilchards 
of  Mount's  Bay  were  only  sent  to  Plymouth  and  Bristol 
when  the  catch  was  too  big  to  be  absorbed  by  the  town  and 
district.     Courtney  was  among  the  crowd  which  watched 

^  Hcdj  a  Century  of  Penzance. 

i6  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

the  first  steamboat  enter  the  harbour  in  1825.  At  that 
time  there  was  no  gas  in  the  town,  which  was  Hghted  by  a 
few  oil  lamps  provided  by  public-spirited  citizens.  A  letter 
from  London  cost  a  shilling,  and  took  two  days  on  the  road. 
"  So  few  letters  came  to  the  town  that  for  many  years 
after  my  arrival  they  were  dehvered  by  an  old  woman  who 
carried  them  about  in  a  basket."  In  this  Celtic  comer  of 
England  the  belief  in  ghosts  was  almost  universal  among 
the  lower  classes.  Several  houses  were  beUeved  to  be 
haunted,  and  old  folk  were  still  alive  who  claimed  to  have 
heard  a  coach  drawn  by  headless  horses  rumble  through  the 
town  in  the  middle  of  the  night. 

The  charms  of  the  Cornish  Riviera  were  not  generally 
discovered  before  the  advent  of  railways,  and  it  was  not 
tiU  the  middle  of  the  century  that  its  mild  climate  began 
to  attract  invahds  in  large  numbers.  The  glories  of  St. 
Michael's  Mount  were  known  to  adventurous  travellers  ; 
but  Penzance  was  cut  off  from  the  main  currents  of  national 
Ufe  and  thought,  and  only  muffled  echoes  of  great  events 
were  heard.  In  the  chosen  land  of  rotten  boroughs  it  was 
useless  to  expect  a  vigorous  pohtical  activity  so  soon  after 
the  drastic  purge  of  the  Reform  Bill.  But  though  the 
geographical  situation  of  Cornwall  was  unfavourable  to  the 
growth  and  interchange  of  ideas,  its  very  isolation  stimu- 
lated a  local  patriotism  unsurpassed  and  perhaps  un- 
approached  in  any  other  county.  This  pride  in  his  birth- 
place was  fully  shared  by  Leonard  Courtney,  who,  though 
he  left  it  in  early  life  to  seek  his  fortunes  in  a  wider  field, 
felt  himself  united  by  a  special  freemasonry  with  other 
Comishmen,  and  retained  an  und5dng  affection  for  its 
rocky  coasts. 

The  lad  was  noted  among  the  children  of  Penzance  for 
his  knowledge  of  the  Bible,  and  he  took  full  advantage  of 
such  slender  educational  facilities  as  were  afforded  by  the 
sleepy  old  town  ;  but  it  was  the  discovery  of  his  mathe- 
matical bent  by  Dr.  Willan  which  set  his  feet  on  the  road 
which  led  to  fame  and  fortune.  The  doctor,  a  Peterhouse 
man,  proved  the  link  which  connected  distant  Penzance 
with  the  world  of  learning  ;  and  as  the  clever  boy  advanced 


from  strength  to  strength,  the  conviction  ripened  in  his 
teacher's  mind  that  at  all  costs  he  must  find  his  way  to  the 
University.  It  was  true  that  while  other  lads  of  his  age 
were  devoting  their  full  time  to  their  studies  Leonard  left 
school  at  thirteen  and  gave  the  best  hours  of  the  day  to  the 
ledgers  of  the  Bank  ;  yet  he  learned  so  quickly  that  the 
Doctor  had  no  fear  of  competitors  who  enjoyed  every 
advantage  which  money  could  provide,  but  lacked  the  gifts 
and  the  industry  which  marked  him  out  for  success.  The 
intellectual  interest  of  the  teacher  quickly  warmed  into 
personal  affection,  which  was  rewarded  by  the  life -long 
gratitude  of  the  disciple.  Dr.  Willan  was  to  be  a  counsellor 
and  friend  through  the  anxieties  and  triumphs  of  his 
University  career,  and  he  survived  to  see  his  beloved  pupil 
an  honoured  and  influential  figure  in  the  public  hfe  of  the 

Courtney's  boyhood  was  a  time  of  hard  work  and  short 
holidays,  and  it  was  something  of  an  event  when  his  friend 
and  future  brother-in-law  Richard  OHver  left  Penzance  for 
London  in  the  summer  of  1850,  and  described  the  wonders 
of  the  metropohs  to  the  young  bank  clerk  who  had  never 
been  farther  from  home  than  the  Scilly  Isles.  Though  the 
repUes  are  lost,  OUver's  letters  portray  the  thoughts  and 
interests  of  the  two  friends.  Despite  such  joys  and 
privileges  as  an  occasional  visit  to  the  Opera  and  hearing 
Brougham  in  the  House  of  Lords,  the  young  man  felt  lost 
and  homesick  in  the  great  city. 

From  Richard  Oliver 

October  1850. — Oh  !  that  I  could  accompany  you  to  the 
Lizard  !  You  have  only  to  hitch  the  little  blue  bag  round 
your  neck  and  stuff  a  pasty  in.  The  harvest  moon,  did  you 
say  ?  I  do  not  know  what  the  sight  of  a  cornfield  is.  I  do  not 
know  whether  the  moon  is  full  or  eclipsed.  I  am  mad  for  the 
fields.  Mad  for  a  race.  Mad  for  a  chat.  Mr.  New  (a  Penzance 
Minister)  preached  yesterday  in  the  Chapel.  He  came  home 
and  we  talked  of  you.  He  informed  me  that  you  had  not  been 
so  regular  in  attending  evening  service  since  my  departure. 
He  also  said  that,  though  he  never  talked  with  you  much,  he 
loved  you.    This,  of  course,  is  the  slang  of  the  ministry. 


i8  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

In  reply  to  a  request  for  a  copy  of  Southey  and 
Christopher  North,  Oliver  dilates  on  their  favourite  author 
and  his  adventures  in  second-hand  bookshops. 

November  1850. — I  have  finished  The  Doctor.  Southey  was 
a  splendid  fellow,  worthy  of  ten  times  the  favour  he  gained. 
He  had  the  boldness  to  say  what  he  meant,  and  although  I 
cannot  subscribe  to  the  whole  of  his  sentiments,  he  has  my 
esteem  for  piety,  genius  and  learning,  such  as  few  possess,  I 
met  with  one  copy  of  his  works  as  good  as  new,  price  15s.,  pub- 
lished at  one  guinea  ;  but  I  would  wait  a  Uttle  longer  if  I  were 
you.  They  will  be  seUing  at  los.  very  soon.  After  several 
inquiries  I  have  not  yet  succeeded  in  finding  a  copy  of  Christopher 
North.     But  I  am  sure  to  pick  up  both  soon. 

In  the  spring  of  185 1  the  joyful  news  reached  Ohver  that 
his  friend  would  come  to  London  to  see  the  Great  Exhibition. 

June  18,  185 1. — You  will  make  your  debut  into  the  great 
world,  previous  to  a  tranquil  and  learned  retirement  and  with 
a  glorious  field  in  the  distance  for  every  noble  ambition.  The 
immediate  object  of  the  meeting  I  take  to  be  in  the  first  place 
seeing  well  the  Exhibition.  You  will  find  that  the  amount  of 
sight-seeing  (of  a  lesser  kind)  which  we  can  get  through  in  a 
few  days  wiU  astonish  you. 

The  visit  was  a  triumphant  success,  and  the  time  passed 
far  too  quickly. 

August  10,  1851. — Did  you  not  feel  a  little  used  up  when 
you  got  to  the  desk  again  ?  It  must  be  allowed  that  our  time 
was  very  well  spent,  much  better  than  a  week  in  London  gener- 
ally is.  We  saw  the  choicest  pictures  and  statues  and  visited 
the  very  best  places.  I  never  enjoyed  myself  better  in  any 
week  in  my  Ufe,  and  I  have  no  doubt  you  can  respond  to  this. 
Have  you  forgotten  the  glories  of  Vauxhall,  or  does  your  fancy 
roam  occasionally  through  its  avenues  ? 

Happy  memories  of  this  strenuous  week  remained  with 
both  the  friends  to  the  end  of  their  Hves.  "  One  day  in 
particular  stood  out  above  aU  the  others,"  writes  Mrs. 
Oliver,  "  when  they  had  a  walk  in  the  then  country  lanes 

(1  PENZANCE  19 

and  fields  near  Dulwich,  lunched  at  the  Greyhound  Inn 
in  the  village  and  visited  the  Dulwich  Picture  Gallery. 
Throughout  his  Hfe  my  brother  was  fond  of  expatiating  on 
the  charm  of  the  GaUery  at  Dulwich  ;  and  Richard  Ohver, 
who,  many  years  after,  married  his  youngest  sister,  often 
told  her  of  the  day  spent  there  in  1851." 



Shortly  before  his  visit  to  the  Great  Exhibition  of  185 1 
Courtney  had  journeyed  to  Cambridge  and  won  a  sizarship 
at  St.  John's.  He  was  officially  admitted  to  the  college  on 
June  30,  and  commenced  residence  in  the  following  October. 
St.  John's  was  at  this  time  pre-eminently  the  mathematical 
college.  In  1846  the  world  had  rung  with  the  discovery  of 
Neptune  by  John  Couch  Adams,  one  of  its  Fellows.  Isaac 
Todhunter  was  elected  to  a  Fellowship  in  1849.  The  Master, 
Dr.  Tatham,  was  a  mathematician  ;  and  the  most  active 
figure  in  the  Hf e  of  the  coUege  during  his  rule  was  Dr.  Hymers, 
whose  numerous  treatises  famiharised  Cambridge  students 
with  the  methods  and  results  of  Continental  mathematicians. 
He  numbered  among  his  pupils  many  men  who  afterwards 
rose  to  distinction,  among  them  the  seventh  Duke  of  Devon- 
shire, Bishop  Colenso  and  the  subject  of  this  biography. ^ 

The  Master  of  St.  John's  has  kindly  drawn  up  a  statement 
of  the  financial  assistance  which  enabled  Courtney  to  enter 
the  University.  "  He  was  admitted  a  Sizar  ;  for  under  the 
then  existing  (EUzabethan)  Statutes  the  CoUege  could  not 
elect  Scholars  before  they  had  commenced  residence.  Thus 
Sizarships  suppUed  the  place  of  what  are  now  called  Entrance 
Scholarships.  A  Sizar  received  no  direct  emolument ;  but 
all  fees,  both  College  and  University,'  were  on  a  reduced 
scale.  In  addition  the  College  paid  a  sum  towards  the 
cost  of  his  dinners.  There  were  also  numerous  Exhibitions 
or  special  foundations  each  with  special  limitations — to 
founders'  kin,  to  lads  coming  from  certain  schools,  counties 

^  See  Mullinger,  St.  John's,  chap,  xi.,  and  Rouse  Ball,  History  of  Mathe- 
matics at  Cambridge. 


or  even  parishes.  When  no  candidate  with  the  special 
quahfications  presented  himself  the  Exhibition  was  gener- 
ally awarded  to  one  of  the  Sizars.  Thus  it  frequently 
happened  that  a  Sizar  was  receiving  more  emolument 
(direct  or  indirect)  than  a  Scholar.  In  respect  of  Exhibi- 
tions Courtney  received  £7  in  1852,^51  in  1853,  £59  in  1854 
and  £46 :  los.  in  1855.  He  was  elected  a  Scholar  on 
November  7,  1854,  that  is  to  say,  just  before  he  took  his 
degree.  Not  that  he  had  been  hitherto  unsuccessful  or 
ineligible,  but  that  his  combined  emoluments  as  a  Sizar 
made  it  unprofitable  to  change  his  status.  Men  who  had 
been  Scholars  had,  however,  a  preference  in  the  election  to 
Fellowships,  and  hence  it  was  important  to  become  a 
Scholar.  The  emoluments  of  Scholars  were  direct  and  in- 
direct, and  a  certain  proportion  of  the  rents  was  set  aside 
for  them.  This  sum  was  divided  into  fifty-two  equal  parts, 
one  for  each  week  in  the  year,  and  each  part  was  divided 
among  the  Scholars  actually  resident  in  each  week.  Thus 
the  emolument  depended  on  two  factors — the  length  of 
residence  and  the  number  of  Scholars  resident  in  any  week. 
Out  of  the  amount  due  to  a  Scholar  his  dinners  were  paid 
and  an  allowance  towards  the  rent  of  his  rooms  was  made 
to  him.  The  balance,  which  was  handed  over  to  him  in 
cash,  may  be  taken  roughly  as  £20.  But  as  Courtney  was 
not  elected  Scholar  till  just  before  his  degree,  this  hardly 
affected  his  circumstances  during  his  undergraduate  career." 
Though  the  young  Comishman  was  used  to  frugal  Hving 
his  combined  emoluments  were  insufficient  for  his  keep  ; 
and  his  father  had  to  borrow  from  the  Bank  to  make  up  the 
difference,  the  debt  being  repaid  by  instalments  by  Leonard 
himself.  In  addition  to  the  college  dinner,  to  which  he 
doubtless  did  justice,  his  food  consisted  at  first  of  a  brown 
loaf  and  tea  for  breakfast  and  supper,  to  which  butter, 
marmalade  and  sausages  were  added  as  means  increased. 
His  principal  correspondents  were  his  father,  his  mother 
and  Dr.  Willan,  each  of  whom  deals  mainly  with  a  special 
aspect  of  his  fife, — the  first  with  his  financial  position,  the 
second  with  creature  comforts  and  the  care  of  his  soul,  the 
third  with  the  progress  of  his  studies. 

22  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY     •  chap. 

From  his  Mother 

October  i8,  185 1. — I  was  glad  to  hear  you  had  not  much 
trouble  with  getting  your  lodgings.  I  hope  you  are  comfortable 
in  them.  Are  there  more  young  men  in  the  house  ;  do  you  take 
your  meals  by  yourself  or  have  you  company?  Does  los.  per 
week  include  washing  ?  #Be  careful  that  your  linen  is  quite 
dry  before  wearing  them.  I  must  say  like  father  I  would  have 
given  a  shilling  to  have  seen  you  selecting  your  chamber  sendee 
and  other  things. 

Cornwall  was  far  too  distant  for  a  Christmas  visit,  and 
the  first  term's  bills  arrived  in  Penzance  without  oral 

From  his  Father 

January  14,  1852. — For  a  minute  or  two  after  the  receipt 
of  your  bill  I  was  a  Uttle  surprised,  but  on  looking  it  over  found 
there  was  nothing  beyond  what  I  could  expect,  and  your  mother 
to  my  astonishment  proclaimed  it  moderate.  I  have  from  the 
first  anticipated  that  the  commencing  term  would  be  expensive. 
Now  I  wish  you  most  fully  to  understand  that  though  I  expect 
economy  I  do  not  wish  you  to  be  oppressed  with  a  fear  that 
you  are  running  me  too  hard.  Go  on  with  your  studies  as 
coolly  and  quietly  as  possible,  expend  what  is  needed  and  let 
me  find  the  means  of  keeping  up  the  race.  I  shall  leave  it  to 
your  own  discretion  when  to  spend  and  when  to  spare ;  only 
let  no  one  laugh  you  into  an  expense  which  a  few  minutes' 
consideration  m&,y  point  out  as  unnecessary.  Do  not  be  ashamed 
at  sa5dng  you  are  poor.  If  any  man  wishes  to  bear  you  down 
by  his  riches  and  expenditure  let  him  alone  or  crush  him  down 
by  intellect.  Go  on  with  a  quiet  calm  dignity  and  in  a  short 
time  no  one  wiU  ask  whether  your  allowance  be  £50  or  £500 
per  annum. 

While  his  mother  had  no  apprehensions  of  extravagance, 
her  loving  heart  dwelt  anxiously  on  the  moral  dangers  with 
which  she  conceived  her  first-bom  to  be  surrounded  in  the 
uncharted  world  through  which  he  was  sailing ;  and, 
though  he  never  gave  her  the  shghtest  cause  of  distress,  her 
fears  rather  increased  than  diminished  throughout  his 
academic  career. 


From  his  Mother 

July  13,  1852. — I  trust  you  will  always  do  what  is  right 
and  never  be  tempted  in  any  way  to  do  what  would  cause  you 
grief  and  sorrow  and  you  would  be  ashamed  of  after  it  was 
done.  I  always  think  and  pray  for  you  going  to  bed  and  before 
rising  that  you  may  be  kept  from  the  many  snares  you  are 
exposed  to. 

January  21,  1853. — I  received  the  present  you  sent  me 
and  am  much  pleased  with  it.  Nothing  you  could  have  sent  I 
should  have  hked  so  well,  and  we  all  think  it  an  excellent  Ukeness. 
It  will  be  often  looked  at  by  us  all.  You  must  have  enjoyed 
yourself  very  much  in  London.  I  am  not  sorry  you  are  back 
to  Cambridge  quietly  settled  to  work  once  more.  I  shall  feel 
more  comfortable  than  when  you  were  in  London.  I  know 
that  I  am  very  foolish,  but  I  cannot  help  it.  I  am  afraid  of 
the  journeys,  and  such  a  dreadful  accident  with  one  of  the  trains 
whilst  you  was  in  London.  I  hope  you  wiU  take  care  of  yourself 
and  not  study  too  much,  but  take  a  long  walk  whenever  the 
weather  is  fit. 

Sarah  Courtney  was  naturally  pleased  to  hear  of  her 
son's  academic  triumphs ;  but  she  was  much  more  interested 
in  the  vicissitudes  of  his  moral  and  spiritual  life,  and  she 
scarcely  ever  despatched  a  letter  to  Cambridge  without 
earnest  exhortations  to  right  living. 

From  his  Mother 

January  6,  1854. — I  was  much  pleased  to  receive  your  very 
kind  letter  and  Pilgrim's  Progress.  It  gave  me  much  pleasure 
to  have  such  an  affectionate  letter.  The  book  will  be  much 

July  4,  1854. — (A  birthday  letter,  accompanied  by  "  heavy 
cake.")  I  wish  you  many,  very  many  happy  returns  of  the 
day.  It  is  not  hkely  I  shall  ever  spend  a  birthday  with  you 
or  you  with  me  ;  but  I  shall  never  forget  to  pray  for  you  that 
you  may  be  kept  from  the  many  vices,  snares  and  temptations 
you  are  exposed  to  and  ever  do  that  which  is  right  and  just, 
and  ever  remember  Sabbath-day  and  go  regularly  to  Church 
or  Chapel.  I  think  in  the  observance  of  the  Sabbath  depends 
in  great  measure  your  future  conduct  through  life.  You  are 
now  a  man.     Father  and  Mother  have  no  more  control  over 

24  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

you  ;  but  still  I  feel  more  anxiety  about  you  than  ever  I  did. 
I  cannot  tell  you  what  I  have  felt  since  you  left.  You  are  the 
first  in  my  thoughts  in  the  morning  and  the  last  at  night.  It 
is  impossible  to  tell  what  anxiety  parents  have  until  you  are  a 
parent.  If  it  is  possible  there  is  more  affection  for  one  than 
another  it  is  for  the  first-bom.  You  will  most  likely  say  I  am 
foolish  and  particular.  Perhaps  I  am  and  think  more  about 
you  than  is  right.  Should  I  hear  anything  wrong  of  you  it 
would  be  the  greatest  trial  I  ever  had  and  a  terrible  thing  for 
your  father. 

Her  anxieties  were  unfounded,  for  her  son  had  neither 
time  nor  inclination  for  frivolities.  He  was  weU  aware  that 
his  University  career  was  regarded  by  his  parents  as  an 
experiment  which  required  to  be  justified  by  success,  and 
he  was  resolved  to  earn  as  much  and  to  work  as  hard  as 
possible.  In  his  third  year  he  undertook  new  responsi- 
bihties  which  evoked  a  warning  from  home  against  over- 
taxing his  strength. 

From  his  Father 

January  6,  1854. — What  of  your  pupil  ?  I  think  much 
may  result  from  him  should  he  succeed  ;  but  I  would  not  en- 
cumber myself  for  the  present,  as  I  think  you  will  have  enough 
to  do  to  attend  to  your  own  matters.  Of  course  during  the 
vacation  emplojonent  is  another  thing. 

From  the  first  moment  Courtney's  eyes  were  set  on  the 
glittering  prize  of  the  Senior  Wranglership.  In  those  days 
it  was  the  greatest  distinction  of  University  life,  and  the 
one  event  in  the  academic  world  the  ne\ys  of  which  spread 
far  beyond  University  circles.  It  was  obvious  from  the 
beginning  that  the  young  Johnian  had  a  good  chance,  and 
his  tutors  were  eager  that  the  athlete  should  neglect  no 
opportunity  of  preparing  himself  for  the  race.  The  college 
examinations  were  held  in  December  and  June,  and  the 
papers  included  both  mathematical  and  classical  subjects. 
At  the  end  of  his  first  term  he  was  placed  in  the  First  Class, 
but  the  names  were  not  arranged  in  order  of  merit. ^     In 

^  For  the  examination  record  I  am  indebted  to  the  kindness  of  the 
Master  of  St.  John's. 


June  1852  Rees  was  placed  at  the  top  of  the  First  Class, 
while  Courtney  and  Savage  were  bracketed  fifth.  Both 
were  elected  "  Proper  Sizars,"  whose  privilege  it  was  to  sit 
at  a  table  by  themselves.  ^  The  completion  of  each  year 
brought  Courtney  a  fresh  "  Exhibition  "  and  a  prize  of 

The  Long  Vacation  was  no  holiday  to  an  aspirant  for 
high  honours,  and  there  were  anxious  discussions  as  to  how 
it  should  be  turned  to  the  most  profitable  account.  His 
tutor  urged  him  to  spend  the  summer  in  Cambridge  and 
read  with  Parkinson,  the  well-known  coach. 

From  Dr.  Hymers 

June  10,  1852. — You  cannot  do  justice  to  yourself  by  solitary 
study  at  home.  The  first  vacation  is  a  very  important  portion 
of  a  student's  time,  and  if  wasted  in  any  degree  can  hardly  be 
retrieved.  You  are  secure  of  your  Goldsmith's  Exhibition,  and 
you  will  receive  at  least  ;fio  from  the  College  at  midsummer. 
If  you  dream  away  this  vacation  in  solitary  study  and  in  mere 
revision  of  former  work,  you  will  see  reason  to  repent  it  before 
you  take  your  degree. 

Courtney  had  no  intention  of  "  dreaming  away  "  the 
vacation,  and  on  the  same  day  he  received  a  generous  offer 
from  his  own  coach. 

From  Mr.  Wolstoneholme 

June  10,  1852,  Croydon. — I  was  much  gratified  by  your 
extremely  frank  and  open  letter.  I  should  be  especially  sorry 
for  you  to  leave  me  now.  I  hope  you  wiU  consent  to  come 
with  me  to  Barmouth  and  to  accept  the  Long's  tuition  from 
me  as  a  gift. 

The  arrangement  was  at  once  reported  to  Dr.  Hymers, 
who  replied  that  he  would  be  perfectly  satisfied  if  he  were 
to  read  steadily  for  three  months  under  the  direction  of  an 

^  Mr.  J.  L.  E.  Hooppell  sends  me  the  following  extract  from  his  father's 
diary,  October  20,  1854.  "  We  nine  Proper  Sizars  were  photographed. 
We  had  to  sit  and  stand  over  an  hour,  while  fourteen  or  more  daguerreo- 
types were  made."     The  photo  is  still  preserved. 

26  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

efficient  tutor.  That  the  summer  had  not  been  wasted  was 
proved  by  the  December  exammation,  in  which  the  name 
of  Rees  again  appears  at  the  top  of  the  First  Class,  with 
Courtney  second  and  Savage  third.  His  progress  was 
watched  with  delight  by  his  Penzance  tutor,  with  whom  he 
maintained  a  regular  correspondence. 

From  Dr.  Willan 

December  20,  1852. — You  have  done  nobly  in  the  examina- 
tion. There  is  one  man  that  seems  to  dog  your  heels  still, 
Savage.  The  rest  you  have  distanced,  I  hope  for  ever.  Is 
this  man  a  formidable  opponent  ?  Has  he  a  private  tutor  ? 
I  must  not  forget  to  wish  you  joy  of  your  ^^20  Exhibition,  which 
will  no  doubt  be  followed  up  at  midsummer  by  a  Wood's  Exhibi- 
tion. At  the  Bank  to-day  I  saw  Mr.  Bolitho,  who  spoke  in 
terms  of  your  honourable  position  at  St.  John's  that  make  me 
very  proud  of  my  first  pupil. 

The  Doctor's  letters  reveal  the  deUghtful  friendship  that 
bound  the  older  to  the  younger  man.  Has  Leonard  ever 
come  across  Monk's  Life  ofBentley,  with  its  amusing  account 
of  the  controversy  of  Ancients  and  Modems  ?  Would  he 
look  at  the  last  edition  of  Bekker's  Gallus  and  Charides  and 
the  New  Cratylus  ?  How  had  their  reading  in  Penzance 
fitted  in  with  the  Cambridge  course  of  study  ?  Was  there 
any  marked  change  in  the  manner  of  teaching  Greek  or 
Latin  since  he  had  left  the  University  ?  Leonard  would 
perhaps  be  interested  by  a  circular  on  decimal  coinage, 
which  he  enclosed.  The  pupil  retaUated  by  sending  him 
papers  on  science  and  describing  his  lectures,  among  them 
those  of  the  great  physicist  Stokes. 

The  three  men.  Savage,  Courtney  and  Rees,  continued 
to  occupy  the  three  leading  places  in  the  First  Class  tiU  the 
end.  In  May  1853  the  Hst  ran  Savage,  Rees,  Courtney ; 
in  December,  Rees,  Courtney,  Savage ;  in  June  1854, 
Savage,  Courtney,  Rees.  As  the  Tripos  approached  it  was 
clear  to  every  one  that  Savage  and  Courtney  would  run 
neck  and  neck  for  the  laurel  wreath,  for  Rees  was  more  of  a 
classic  than  a  mathematician,  and  no  other  college  could 


boast  of  such  candidates  as  St.  John's.  "  Courtney  is  much 
annoyed  at  the  expectation  that  prevails  that  he  will  be 
Senior  Wrangler,"  wrote  his  friend  Hooppell  in  his  diary, 
December  4,  1854.  "  I  hope  he  will  be."  'The  ordeal  took 
place  in  January  1855,  and  the  Honours  List  contained  139 
names,  headed  by 

Savage  .         .         .     5571 

Courtney        .  ^         .     5481. 

Rees  was  ninth  Wrangler  and  sixth  Classic,  the  Senior 
Classic  being  Montagu  Butler,  the  future  Master  of  Trinity. 
The  congratulations  from  home  seem  a  Httle  stinted  after 
such  a  triumph,  the  magnitude  of  which,  however,  they 
could  hardly  appreciate. 

From  his  Mother 

February  8,  1855. — It  has  given  me  much  pleasure  and 
satisfaction  to  hear  of  your  success,  and  I  hope  with  feelings 
of  gratitude  to  the  Giver  of  all  good.  You  must  not  feel  proud 
or  exalted  in  your  present  position,  but  remember  where  much 
is  given  much  will  be  required. 

From  his  Father 

With  your  mother  I  am  gratified  at  your  success  and  I  hope 
you  wiU  still  go  on  and  prosper,  yet  with  all  this  I  do  not  feel 
that  elation  some  may  imagine.  I  think  of  the  responsibility 
you  have  incurred  to  maintain  the  position  you  have  attained, 
and  I  feel  your  present  is  not  the  conclusion  but  the  commence- 
ment of  a  career.  You  have  hitherto  done  weU  ;  take  care  to 
keep  in  the  same  right  path.  I  am  satisfied  with  all  you  have 
done,  and  what  is  said  before  is  more  of  exhortation  to  continue 
to  do  right  than  anything  else.  .  .  .  Let  me  know  in  your  next 
something  with  regard  to  money  matters.  It  seems  you  must 
go  on  very  parcimoniously  for  the  next  twelve  months,  but  do 
not  on  any  account  go  in  debt.  I  would  rather  screw  up  closer 
at  home.  Remember  the  outset  of  life  is  the  most  trying  to 
the  judgment,  and  I  dread  a  false  step. 

A  more  jubilant  note  was  struck  by  his  first  teacher,  who 
had  followed  every  stage  of  the  struggle  with  loving  interest 
and  was  weU  aware  of  its  arduous  character. 

28  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

From  Dr.  Willan 

January  27,  1855. — Dear  Leonard,  lo  triumphe  !  lo !  lo  ! 
I  shall  complete  Ay  paeaji  when  I  hear  that  you  are  first  Smith's 
Prizeman,  which  I  expect  you  will  be.  Let  me  hear  all  about 
yourself,  what  your  plans  are,  whether  you  intend  to  put  in 
for  the  Moral  Sciences  and  whether  you  intend  to  enter  yourself 
at  one  of  the  Inns  of  Court,  and  if  so  whether  you  will  not  take 
part  in  the  debates  of  the  Union.  But  by  the  way  you  should 
have  some  breathing  time,  not  enough  I  suppose  to  nm  down 
here,  where  you  will  readily  understand  that  the  Cambridge 
Tripos  is  just  now  the  tcdk  of  the  town.  I  wish  I  could  be  in 
the  Senate  House  on  Monday  and  at  your  Bachelors'  dinner, 
if  such  gatherings  exist  at  this  day  as  they  did  in  mine.  I  have 
thoughtlessly  assumed  that  your  work  is  over ;  but  the  Smith 
and  the  Moral  Sciences  will  keep  the  bow  bent  some  time  longer. 

The  next  goal  was  not  far  distant.  On  the  Monday 
following  the  granting  of  degrees  the  second  race  was  run. 
Savage  and  Courtney  were  bracketed  equal  as  Smith's 
Prizemen,  a  distinction  less  imderstood  by  the  outside  world 
than  the  Senior  Wranglership,  but  generally  accepted  by 
mathematicians  as  perhaps  a  stiU  more  striking  certificate 
of  merit,  since  pace  coimted  for  less  than  in  the  tripos. 

From  Dr.  Willan 

February  5,  1855. — ^These  second  laurels  are  scarcely  more 
than  I  expected  after  the  first  had  been  so  nobly  won.  I  never 
doubted  the  large  capabilities  of  my  distinguished  pupil.  I 
should  Hke  to  know  in  what  points  your  friend  Savage  was 
senior.  Did  that  tiresome  hot-pipe  give  you  your  cold  and  him 
his  seniority  ?  Mrs.  Willan  is  I  believe  prouder  of  your  having 
been  my  pupil  than  you  are  of  your  Smith's  prize.  Have  you 
had  enough  of  exams  or  do  you  intend  to  have  a  slap  at  the 
Moral  Sciences  ? 

His  grandfather  wrote  cordially  of  his  success,  adding 
that  he  had  never  doubted  his  abilities.  Once  again  the 
congratulations  from  home  were  mingled  with  reproaches 
and  suspicions  that  were  the  harder  to  bear  since  they  were 
whoUy  undeserved. 


From  his  Mother 

February  23,  1855. — I  expected  to  have  had  a  long  letter 
from  you  yesterday  and  how  I  was  disappointed  when  it  was 
given  to  me.  Your  letters  have  been  nothing  more  lately  than 
little  scraps.  When  you  are  really  busy  I  am  contented  with 
a  line  or  two.  What  is  it  you  are  so  engaged  about  at  present 
that  you  cannot  spare  one  hour  in  the  course  of  a  week  to  write 
home  ?  I  am  sadly  afraid  you  are  indulging  in  some  measure 
of  gaiety  that  is  not  right.  If  this  be  the  case,  give  it  up.  If 
you  knew  how  anxious  your  father  and  I  am  about  you  and 
what  a  night  I  passed  last  night  grieving  and  thinking  of  you, 
I  do  not  think  you  would  act  so.  You  know  you  have  one  of 
the  best  of  fathers  and  you  ought  to  treat  him  as  such.  Write 
him  oftener  and  tell  him  what  you  are  about  and  not  leave 
him  to  hear  from  others  what  he  should  hear  from  you.  I 
would  rather  be  treated  unkindly  than  he  should  be.  Unkind- 
ness  from  my  children, — how  could  I  bear  it  ?  The  very  thought 
is  dreadful.  My  dear,  dear  boy,  I  am  feeling  so  agitated  and 
distressed  that  I  scarcely  know  what  I  am  writing.  Never 
neglect  your  parents  that  think  so  much  about  you.  I  have 
been  too  proud  of  you,  and  the  Lord  in  mercy  is  making  me  to 
feel  more  humble.  I  never  felt  so  sorrowful  about  you  since 
you  first  left  home. 

A  Second  Wrangler  and  Smith's  Prizeman  might  fairly 
hope  for  a  Fellowship,  and  Courtney  stayed  on  at  Cambridge 
taking  pupils  and  waiting  for  the  crowning  recognition  of 
his  merit.  His  mother  was  now  beginning  to  realise  that 
her  son  was  a  man  of  first-rate  abiUty  and  that  a  dis- 
tinguished career  lay  before  him ;  but  she  could  never 
surrender  herself  to  the  tranquil  enjoyment  of  his  fame, 
and  every  success  seemed  to  her  anxious  mind  to  bring 
fresh  dangers  in  its  train. 

From  his  Mother  {on  his  birthday) 

July  4,  1855. — I  trust  you  will  not  live  only  to  be  a  great 
man  as  far  as  this  world  is  concerned  but  a  good,  ever  doing 
what  is  right.  I  hope  you  will  be  successful  with  your  pupils. 
Whatever  you  get,  Uttle  or  much,  you  must  be  careful. 

30  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

February  22,  1856. — I  hope  you  are  not  gay  and  too  fond 
of  company.  The  very  position  you  have  taken  in  society 
may  be  the  very  means  of  bringing  you  into  gay  and  thought- 
less company.  I  think  more  about  you  than  all  the  others  put 

On  March  11,  1856,  Courtney  was  elected  to  a  Fellow- 
ship at  St.  John's,  for  which  the  way  had  been  smoothed 
by  an  unexpected  occurrence.  The  career  of  the  Senior 
Wrangler  had  already  reached  a  speedy  and  tragic  close. 
"  He  was  a  pale,  rather  sickly-looking  man  with  darkish 
hair,"  writes  Dr.  Bonney,  "  rather  narrow  in  the  chest,  and 
with  sloping  shoulders.  One  afternoon  in  the  Lent  Term, 
before  the  Fellowship  election,  he  went  out  alone  for  a 
walk.  He  did  not  return  from  it,  and  the  next  day  was 
found  dead  in  a  shallow  ditch  in  the  fields  about  a  mile  from 
the  college.  Death  was  due  to  hemorrhage  on  the  brain. 
It  was  supposed  that,  as  he  took  some  interest  in  botany, 
he  had  leaned  forward  to  gather  a  plant  and  this  had  sufficed 
to  rupture  a  vessel." 

"  The  value  of  the  Fellowship  was  £160  a  year,  with 
commons  in  Hall  and  an  allowance  for  the  rent  of  rooms," 
writes  the  Master  of  St.  John's.  "  Under  the  Ehzabethan 
Statutes  a  Fellow  had  to  be  in  Priest's  orders  within  a 
certain  number  of  years  from  his  M.A.  degree  ;  but  an 
exception  was  made  in  favour  of  two  FeUows  who  pursued 
the  study  of  medicine.  By  Royal  Letters  Patent  of  Charles 
I.  this  privilege  was  extended  to  two  Fellows  who  pursued 
the  study  of  law.  These  were  called  Law  Fellows,  and 
Courtney  was  the  last  of  them,  holding  it  until  his  marriage 
in  1883,  when  under  the  general  rule  then  affecting  Fellow- 
ships he  vacated  it.  At  the  same  time  he  returned  the 
emolmnents  for  the  years  1881,  1882  and  1883,  leaving  the 
disposal  of  the  moneys  to  the  discretion  of  the  coUege,  by 
whom  it  was  used  from  time  to  time  to  piurchase  books  and 
apparatus.  He  was  elected  an  Honorary  Fellow  in  1884 
and  remained  one  till  his  death."  The  Fellowship  was 
supplemented  by  coaching  ;  but  warnings  and  exhortations 
continued  to  arrive  from  Penzance. 


From  Ms  Father 

October  25,  1856. — I  had  rather  you  had  not  so  many  pupils  ; 
but  as  the  period  is  short  you  must  try  to  arrange  matters  so 
as  to  make  use  of  every  spare  minute  for  out  of  door  exercise. 
I  can  see  the  Law  can  progress  but  Httle  for  some  time  ;  still, 
however  trifling  the  advance,  you  must  keep  the  onward  course. 
At  the  time  you  name  you  ought  at  least  to  have  saved  enough 
to  pay  the  fee,  and  your  Fellowship  and  Tancred  should  then 
be  sufficient  to  keep  other  matters  afloat.  It  is  useless  to  do 
things  by  halves.  If  you  would  succeed  you  must  learn  to 
put  the  constraint  on  inclination  until  you  have  fixed  your 
foot  firm  in  the  ground.  Your  mother  often  observes  whatever 
your  gains  they  seem  to  be  always  swallowed  up  ;  and  although 
I  to  her  put  on  a  good  face,  yet  in  my  inmost  heart  I  fear  at 
times  you  have  not  been  so  prudent  as  you  ought.  My  dear 
fellow,  consider  the  uncertainty  of  the  position  of  the  family 
if  anything  should  happen  to  me,  and  make  the  most  of  every 
opportunity.  I  do  not  mean  to  be  a  miserly  niggard,  but  do 
not  consider  a  thing  necessary  because  some  one  richer  than 
yourself  has  it.  The  great  curse  of  the  times  is  the  desire  of 
cutting  a  dash,  being  in  appearance  something  you  are  not  in 
reahty,  inquiring,  when  we  are  about  to  do  a  thing,  what  will 
Mr.  So  and  So  say,  instead  of  saying.  Do  my  circumstances 
justify  my  doing  it  ?  Be  for  the  future  independent  of  all  such 
circumstances  and  be  firm  in  doing  only  what  is  right.  I 
have  written  this  because  I  find  myself  unable  to  do  what  I 
could  formerly  accomphsh  with  little  difficulty,  and  having 
also  a  feehng  of  greater  responsibihty  as  to  the  younger  ones. 
Mortimer  is  justly  entitled  to  some  exertion  on  my  part  to 
place  him  in  a  better  position.  The  three  little  ones  have  also 
their  claims.  May  I  live  to  see  them  at  least  in  a  course  to 
take  care  of  themselves. 

Despite  the  anxious  pleas  for  strict  economy  addressed 
to  him  from  home  the  young  Fellow  considered  himself 
entitled  to  a  trip  abroad  after  five  years  of  strenuous  study  ; 
and  in  September  he  paid  the  first  of  many  visits  to  Paris, 
returning  home  through  Belgium.  The  tour  was  keenly  en- 
joyed, and  implanted  the  love  of  pictures  which  remained  with 
him  throughout  hfe.  A  year  later  he  spent  his  September 
holiday  in  England,  and  his  adventures  are  described  in  the 
earliest  of  the  chatty  letters  home  which  have  been  preserved. 


To  his  Mother 

September  8,  1857. — ^  ^^  ^o*  think  last  week  that  I  should 
be  able  to  tell  you  to-day  that  I  have  since  then  visited  Yar- 
mouth, the  home  of  the  "  bloater."  I  went  down  to  Lowestoft 
on  Saturday  afternoon  with  Roby,  walked  over  to  Yarmouth 
on  the  Sunday  and  returned  by  the  last  train  last  night,  calling 
on  the  way  for  two  or  three  hours  at  Norwich.  We  left  Cam- 
bridge at  I '20  and  reached  Lowestoft  at  about  half -past  six ; 
the  coast  there  is  very  unlike  ours,  there  are  no  rocks  and  scarcely 
anything  deserving  the  name  of  cHff.  Yarmouth  is  a  very 
quaint  old  place  ;  it  has  a  long  quay  running  along  the  bank 
of  the  river  and  skirted  by  hmes  and  poplars.  'Twas  well 
filled  with  shipping,  some  of  the  houses  old  and  picturesque  ; 
there  is  also  a  fine  open  fish  market  with  the  parish  church,  a 
very  large  fine  building,  on  one  side  and  close  by  it  a  hospital 
for  decayed  fishermen.  But  the  most  peculiar  part  of  the  town 
is  the  assemblage  of  rows.  A  row  is  a  very  narrow  alley  about 
six  feet  broad  with  tall  houses  grimly  facing  one  another  on 
each  side  of  it.  Yarmouth  is  not  so  much  frequented  by  visitors 
as  the  more  fashionable  Lowestoft,  nor  is  it  so  well  suited  for  a 
family,  but  I  would  certainly  rather  go  there  of  the  two.  On 
a  green  running  between  the  river  and  the  sea  (the  course  of 
the  former  being  for  some  time  nearly  parallel  with  the  shore 
till  it  turns  sharply  round  into*  the  sea)  is  a  handsome  monument 
which  the  people  of  Norfolk  have  erected  to  Nelson,  a  native 
of  the  county.  We  left  Yarmouth  in  the  evening  for  Lowestoft. 
Yesterday  afternoon  we  left  Lowestoft  and  stopped  on  the  way 
at  Norwich  ;  I  was  extremely  pleased  with  this  old  city.  In 
the  middle  of  it  rises  a  hiU  crowned  with  the  keep  of  the  old 
castle  now  converted  into  the  county-prison,  and  from  a  walk 
around  it  a  series  of  fine  views  of  the  city  can  be  obtained.  The 
cathedral  is  a  very  fine  specimen  of  Norman  architecture,  but 
within  it  has  been  allowed  to  be  disfigured  and  has  as  yet  escaped 
the  renovating  spirit  of  the  time.  The  cloisters  are  remarkably 
fine,  second  only  to  Gloucester.  There  are  about  thirty  parishes 
in  the  city  and  some  of  the  churches  are  fine  buildings,  also  a 
Music  Hall  where  the  Festival  takes  place  next  week,  a  new  and 
handsome  Free  Library  and  an  extensive  open  market  place 
with  a  statue  in  the  centre  of  the  great  Duke  of  Wellington, 
whose  son,  the  present  Duke,  I  saw  riding  through  one  of  the 
streets.  I  have  come  to  the  end  of  my  journey  and  my  paper : 
to-day  I  resumed  work.  By  next  week  my  pupils  will  have 


To  his  Mother 

Manchester,  September  22, — I  arrived  here  last  evening 
having  left  Cambridge  by  the  eariy  train.  This  morning  I  went 
down  to  the  Exhibition  and  kept  steadily  working  at  the  pictures 
for  about  six  hours  and  so  saw  about  four  hundred  pictures  ; 
at  this  rate  it  will  take  two  more  days  to  go  through  the  pictures 
of  the  Old  Masters  and  I  shall  still  have  the  thousand  or  more 
of  Modem  Artists,  the  engravings,  etchings,  statues,  and  all 
the  elegancies  of  porcelain.  It  is  clear  I  might  easily  spend  a 
fortnight  at  it,  but  I  do  not  expect  that  all  the  schools  will 
deserve  as  much  attention  as  that  I  have  been  over  to-day, 
which  was  the  ItaUan.  I  began  with  Cimabue  and  Giotto  and 
thence  passed  through  the  works  of  Era  Angelico  and  Era  Eilippo 
Lippi  to  Leonardo  da  Vinci,  Raphael,  Correggio,  then  the 
Venetians,  Titian,  Giorgione,  Paul  Veronese,  Giulio  Romano, 
and  the  later  Caracci,  Andrea  del  Sarto,  Domenichino,  Guido, 
Sassoferrato,  Carlo  Dolce.  These  are  the  names  which  we  first 
became  acquainted  with  through  the  Pictorial  Bible  and  have 
since  seen  in  their  glory  of  colour  in  Academies  and  Museums. 
The  arrangement  is  entirely  chronological  and  so  very  instructive. 
To-morrow  I  shall  begin  with  the  Flemish  artists  and  go  down 
the  Elemish  and  German  history ;  the  early  specimens  will  I 
suppose  remind  me  of  the  things  I  saw  at  Bruges  and  Ghent 
this  time  last  year.  I  could  go  into  ecstacies  on  the  colouring 
of  the  Venetians  that  I  have  seen  to-day.  The  portraits  of 
Titian  are  wonderful ;  there  is  one  of  Ariosto  which  fills  you 
with  delight,  such  a  jolly  fine  fellow,  you  see  how  keenly  he 
felt  aU  pleasure,  his  short  brown  curly  beard,  his  honest  open 
face  and  noble  bearing  inspire  you  with  a  sense  how  pleasant 
must  have  been  his  converse.  Then  there  are  two  or  three 
members  of  the  Medici  family,  the  first  Cosimo  and  his  son,  fine 
noble  looking  men,  another  of  Pope  JuUus  the  Second,  two  or 
three  Cardinals,  etc.  Then  there  are  two  or  three  very  fine 
pictures  of  Raphael,  two  Holy  Eamihes  in  especial,  then  some 
of  John  Bellini  famous  in  design,  character  and  colouring.  I 
could  run  on  about  these  things  and,  fetching  the  interleaved 
catalogue  which  I  have  bought,  detail  to  you  my  notes,  but 
what  need  of  doing  so  ? 

The  next  letter  describes  the  college  life  of  the  young 
Fellow  during  the  last  term  of  his  University  career. 


34  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

To  his  Mother 

November  3,  1857. — I  can  only  afford  time  for  two  or  three 
lines  this  week  as  I  am  and  have  been  and  shall  be  very  busy 
for  the  next  part  of  it.  I  am  bound  to  own  that  dinner  engage- 
ments have  partly  occupied  me.  Last  Thursday  was  the  audit 
dinner  at  Christ's  College,  and  I  suppose  as  a  matter  of  course 
I  was  taken  in  by  the  Tutor.  On  Saturday  the  Master  gave 
one  of  his  dinner  parties.  These  apparently  occur  once  a  week 
and  will  in  the  course  of  the  term  run  through  the  list  of  Fellows. 
Monday  was  the  day  of  our  Scholarship  Election  and  of  course 
a  dinner  party  in  our  hall.  This  afternoon  a  meeting  of  the 
Fellows  to  discuss  some  more  propositions,  when  I  submitted 
two  which  after  considerable  discussion  were  rejected  by  about 
two  to  one ;  they  are  on  the  conditions  of  tenure  of  Fellowships. 
At  Christmas  our  functions  as  to  initiating  statutes  terminate 
and  we  shall  have  to  consider  any  that  may  be  sent  us.  All 
this  with  my  lecturing  and  pupils  have  occupied  my  time, 
indeed  I  am  obUged  to  receive  some  of  the  latter  three  days 
a  week  in  the  evenings ;  but  I  am  very  weU  and  intend  to 
continue  so.  Tell  Margaret  I  had  already  thought  of  buying 
Browning  for  myself,  but  she  shall  have  its  refusal  if  I  get  it. 
I  have  consented  to  be  one  of  the  six  College  Examiners  at 

College  reform,  to  which  reference  is  thus  casually  made, 
was  at  this  time  exercising  the  mind  of  most  of  the  younger 
and  many  of  the  older  members  of  the  University.  In 
response  to  an  influential  memorial  Lord  John  Russell  had 
in  1850  appointed  a  Royal  Commission  to  inquire  into  the 
constitution  of  Oxford  and  Cambridge  and  to  make  pro- 
posals for  reform.  The  Commission  reported  in  1852,  and 
in  1856  an  Executive  Commission  was  created  to  carry  out 
the  suggested  improvements.  The  colleges  were  permitted 
to  frame  new  statutes  before  1858,  failing  which  the 
Commission  might  make  proposals  which  could  only  be 
rejected  by  a  two-thirds  majority  of  the  governing  body. 
Many  of  the  irksome  restrictions  of  the  Elizabethan  code 
thus  disappeared,  though  several  others  lingered  on  for 
another  decade.  Courtney's  modest  share  in  the  discus- 
sion, which  turned  on  such  subjects  as  the  tenure  of  fellow- 
ships, celibacy  and  college  livings,  is  recalled  in  some  notes 


kindly  supplied  by  Dr.  Liveing,  for  many  years  Professor 
of  Chemistry. 

"  Lord  Courtney  was  five  years  my  junior  in  the 
University,  and  though  I  was  one  of  the  College  lecturers 
when  he  came  up  he  never  attended  my  lectures  and  I  did 
not  make  his  acquaintance  until  he  became  a  Fellow  in 
1856.  On  the  day  of  election  of  new  Fellows,  the  two  junior 
Fellows  on  the  old  list  used  to  invite  the  other  resident 
Fellows  to  supper  and  there  introduce  to  them  those  newly 
elected.  In  the  fifties  the  subject  which  most  engaged  our 
attention  was  that  of  University  and  College  reform.  A 
Commission  under  the  Universities  Act  was  busy  with 
reforms,  and  those  who  wished  for  changes  used  often 
to  meet  in  small  parties,  after  the  four  o'clock  dinner, 
in  each  other's  rooms,  to  discuss  their  plans  ;  but  I  cannot 
remember  exactly  what  Hne  Courtney  took  in  these  discus- 
sions. Certainly  he  was  not  prominent :  indeed,  as  he  was 
quite  a  junior,  he  probably  thought  it  better  to  be  only  a 
hstener.  In  1857  the  whole  body  of  Fellows  had  to  prepare 
new  statutes  for  the  College,  and  there  were  regular  meet- 
ings for  this  purpose  and  much  serious  discussion.  In  this 
Courtney  took  part,  but  it  was  not  a  very  prominent  part : 
he  was  cool  headed,  formed  his  opinions  deUberately  and 
gave  good  reasons  for  his  judgments.  On  many  of  the 
questions  which  arose  he  joined  the  reformers  in  private 
discussions,  and  his  influence  went  generally  to  make  the 
changes  proposed  very  moderate,  so  much  so  that  such  of 
them  as  were  rejected  by  the  College  as  a  whole  at  that 
time  were  afterwards  adopted  when  the  statutes  were  again 
revised  in  1881.  I  look  back  on  those  days  with  much 
satisfaction  because,  notwithstanding  much  difference  of 
opinion,  the  prosperity  of  the  College  as  a  whole  was 
never  forgotten,  or  the  happy  social  relations  between  the 
Fellows  ever  shaken." 

The  young  Fellow's  personal  appearance  is  described  by 
Dr.  Bonney,  later  Professor  of  Geology,  the  only  other 
survivor  of  the  academic  circle  of  St.  John's  in  the  fifties. 
"  Courtney  was  full  middle  height,  rather  squarely  built, 
giving  one  the  idea  of  considerable  physical  strength  and 

36  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

with  rather  regular  features ;  but  I  remember  that  even 
then  his  eyes  seemed  a  httle  weak.  The  appearance  of 
some  men  alters  greatly  as  they  pass  from  youth  to  old  age. 
I  have  known  well  several  men  as  imdergraduates  who  have 
been  so  transformed  as  to  be  unrecognisable  when  they  had 
left  sixty  behind  them.  It  was  not  so  with  Courtney,  for 
the  continuity  in  his  aspect  was  maintained  to  the  end. 
He  gave  one  the  impression  of  a  hard-working,  thoughtful 
and  unexcitable  man." 

A  more  intimate  picture  of  the  young  don  in  his  leisure 
hours  is  given  by  Mrs.  BusheU  and  her  sister.  "  We  were 
schoolroom  children  in  those  far-away  days,  ages  twelve 
to  fourteen  more  or  less.  We  were  almost  too  young 
perhaps  and  ignorant  to  diagnose  the  character  of  a  man 
of  such  force  and  personahty  as  he  imdoubtedly  was  even 
then.  But  I  think  we  chiefly  recollect  him  as  a  very  kind 
friend  who  would  come  and  talk  and  laugh  with  us  and 
play  games  galore  and  every  now  and  again  bring  us  sweets 
and  bonbons  !  My  mother  was  a  gifted  woman  and  an 
excellent  conversationahst,  and,  looking  back,  Mrs.  Theo- 
bald and  I  think  he  used  to  Uke  to  talk  to  her  and  teU  her 
about  himself  and  his  aims.  She  was  very  witty  with  a 
broad  outlook  on  the  world  in  general.  I  am  inclined  to 
think  he  found  going  out  to  Hows  Close  our  home  some 
mUe  or  so  out  of  Cambridge  a  relaxation  from  his  strenuous 
University  life,  and,  as  I  hope  and  beUeve,  found  his  hfe's 
work  and  struggle  of  those  days  easier  for  an  occasional  inter- 
lude of  fun  and  laughter  with  our  family.  Perhaps  he  was 
rather  plain,  but  I  don't  remember  that  we  ever  thought 
about  his  physical  aspect.  He  was  just  a  kind  friend  who 
would  come  and  see  us  from  time  to  time.  Always  bright, 
always  nice  as  we  children  called  him,  and  we  enjoyed  his 
visits  thoroughly.  Of  course  we  gradually  lost  sight  of 
him,  but  we  watched  his  career  by  means  of  newspapers 
with  the  greatest  interest  to  the  end  of  his  long  and  dis- 
tinguished Kfe.  I  remember  how  interested  he  was  in  the 
visit  of  a  certain  Miss  Beckett  (I  think  that  was  her  name), 
an  elderly  lady  with  glasses,  who  used  to  visit  an  uncle  of 
mine   Hving   in  Cambridge.     She   was   a — perhaps   the — - 


pioneer  of  the  Women's  Movement,  She  was  older  than 
he,  I  think,  but  I  can  remember  how  shocked  he  was  when 
we  young  impertinencies  laughed  at  her  ;  we  did  not  in  the 
least  tmderstand  the  seriousness  of  her  crusade,  while  he  did 

Courtney  had  never  worn  his  heart  on  his  sleeve,  and  he 
only  unbosomed  himself  to  chosen  friends.  "  I  asked  him 
if  he  were  not  very  reserved,"  wrote  HooppeU  in  his  diary, 
October  31,  1854,  "  which  led  to  a  long  conversation.  I 
was  very  glad  that  it  had  taken  place,  for  now  my  mind 
is  at  ease, — Courtney  is  no  more  to  me  the  reserved,  inscrut- 
able companion  he  used  to  be."  There  was,  however,  a 
certain  austerity  about  him,  corresponding  to  his  gospel 
of  the  strenuous  life.  "  Bishop  Selwyn  preached  at  the 
University  Church,"  records  the  same  diarist,  November 
26,  1854,  "  an  exceedingly  good  sermon.  Courtney  after- 
wards said  it  was  remarkably  Carlylese  on  the  point  of 
the  purifying  influence  of  work."  Carlyle  had  been  the 
favourite  teacher  of  his  youth,  and  at  the  age  of  twelve 
he  had  written  a  critique  of  Past  and  Present  in  his  diary ; 
and  although  on  coming  to  years  of  discretion  he  trans- 
ferred his  allegiance  to  Mill,  he  never  forgot  the  virile 
counsels  and  fortifjdng  maxims  of  Sartor  Resartus. 

Courtney's  hfe  at  Cambridge  had  been  one  of  unremit- 
ting labour,  allowing  no  time  for  such  distractions  as  the 
Union  or  for  the  cultivation  of  a  wide  circle  of  friends. 
Intercollegiate  lectures  were  not  yet  invented.  "  An 
undergraduate  belonged  to  his  coUege  exclusively,"  writes 
Leshe  Stephen  of  Cambridge  in  the  fifties.^  "  He  knew  of 
'  out  college  '  men  only  through  school  friendships  or  meet- 
ings in  the  rooms  of  his  private  tutor.  The  University  was 
for  him  a  mere  abstraction,  except  when  it  revealed  itself 
as  the  board  of  examination  for  '  Uttle  go  '  and  degree." 
The  prosaic  atmosphere  of  the  University,  untroubled  by 
an  "  Oxford  movement  "  or  by  philosophic  doubt,  was 
singularly  conducive  to  tranquil  study.  Classics  and  mathe- 
matics reigned  supreme.  Teachers  and  students  pursued 
concrete  and  Hmited  aims,  and  liked  to  feel  firm  ground 

^  Life  of  Fawcett,  chap.  iii. 

38  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap,  h 

under  their  feet.^  Courtney  was  always  a  strenuous 
worker ;  but  at  no  time  of  his  life  did  he  toil  so  unremit- 
tingly and  with  so  few  relaxations  as  during  his  University 
career.  He  was  happy  enough  at  St,  John's,  and  with  his 
Fellowship  and  his  pupils  he  could  Hve  in  tolerable  comfort ; 
but  as  no  College  or  University  appointment  was  in  sight, 
and  as  he  was  anxious  to  help  his  father  with  the  education 
of  the  younger  children  he  determined  to  seek  his  fortune 
in  London.  His  resolve,  however,  was  not  the  result  of 
economic  pressure  alone.  When  the  arduous  struggle  for 
academic  honours  was  over  he  had  time  to  think  about 
pubhc  affairs,  and  his  interest  in  poHtics  developed  rapidly. 
"  I  cannot  imagine  you  passing  a  life  of  learned  leisure 
secluded  from  the  great  world,"  wrote  a  friend  in  May 
1857.  The  decision  was  quickly  taken,  and  at  the  end  of 
the  autumn  term  Courtney  left  Cambridge  for  London  and 
the  law. 

^  Cp.  Leslie  Stephen,  Sketches  from  Cambridge,  chap,  xii.,  1865.  "  We 
leave  theology  to  theologians  and  mind  our  classics  and  mathematics. 
Our  prevailing  tone  is  what  I  should  venture  to  describe  as  quiet,  good 


Lincoln's  inn 

Courtney  left  Cambridge  for  London  a  few  days  before " 
Christmas  1857  and  settled  down  to  the  study  of  law, 
residing  first  at  Fig  Tree  Court,  Temple.     His  chambers 
after  his  call  to  the  Bar  on  June  17,  1858,^  were  at  Lincoln's 

The  event  moved  his  mother  to  a  birthday  letter  in 
which  her  deep  love  for  her  first-bom  breaks  through  the 
crust  of  reserve. 

From  his  Mother 

July  21,  1858. — How  much  better  you  have  done  than 
could  be  expected,  and  we  all  should  be  very  thankful  you 
have  done  so  well ;  but  remember,  my  dear  Leonard,  where 
much  is  given  much  is  required.  There  is  more  expected  of 
those  that  have  five  talents  than  there  is  of  those  that  have 
but  one.  Nothing  in  this  life  would  give  me  greater  pleasure 
than  to  spend  a  day  with  you.  That  cannot  be,  but  I  will  not 
forget  to  pray  for  you.  How  rapidly  the  time  has  flown,  twenty- 
six  years.  I  can  see  you  now  a  Httle  baby  in  my  arms,  my  first- 
bom  darling  boy.  Now  you  are  a  man  and  in  a  little  time  I 
shall  be  gone ;  but  I  hope  we  shall  both  live  in  this  world  so 
that  whenever  death  may  come  we  may  be  found  ready  for  that 
happy  state  where  there  shall  be  no  separation. 

Leonard  kept  his  mother  well  informed  as  to  his  move- 
ments and  occupations ;  and  her  apprehensions  of  moral 
and  spiritual  dangers  passed  gradually  away. 

^  Mr.  Frederic  Harrison  was  called  on  the  same  day. 


To  his  Mother 

May  22,  1858. — I  shall  begin  to  read  with  some  conveyancer 
in  the  course  of  a  week  or  so, 

August  9. — You  must  not  think  it  is  because  I  do  not  value 
your  last  letter  that  I  have  left  it  unanswered  up  to  this  time. 
I  did  not  get  it  till  after  my  birthday.  I  was  at  Cambridge  on 
that  day.  We  began  very  oddly  talking  about  birthdays  and 
it  then  struck  me  for  the  first  time  that  it  was  the  sixth.  I 
warrant  you  had  thought  of  it  often  before  on  that  day.  I 
hope  dear  Mother  we  may  hve  to  spend  the  sixth  of  July  together. 
You  know  if  I  cannot  come  to  Cornwall  it  is  possible  for  Mamma 
to  come  to  London,  and  I  hve  in  hopes  of  that  some  day  taking 
place.  It  seems  most  probable  that  my  wanderings  will  be 
confined  to  Cambridge  after  aU. 

A  better  fate  was  reserved  for  him,  and  he  enjoyed  a 
holiday  in  the  Lakes  and  Scotland.  In  the  spring  of  1859 
Mrs.  Courtney  left  West  Cornwall  for  the  first  and  last  time, 
for  the  marriage  of  her  second  daughter  at  Clifton.  Leonard 
came  down  for  the  festivities  ;  and  her  great  joy  is  reflected 
in  her  last  birthday  letter. 

From  his  Mother 

July  3,  1859, — How  often  I  think  of  the  few  days  we  spent 
together  in  Clifton  ;  the  pleasure  I  felt  in  having  you  with  me 
in  the  evenings  was  the  best  part  of  my  journey.  Shall  I  ever 
have  such  pleasure  again  ?  I  have  been  very  weak  and  poorly 
for  a  long  time.     Love,  prayers  and  kisses. 

To  his  Mother  {in  reply) 

July  23. — I  received  your  good  letter  on  my  birthday.  I 
am  going  this  afternoon  to  Hertford  and  next  week  I  shall  go 
on  to  Cambridge,  where  I  think  of  remaining  for  at  least  a  month. 
The  weather  here  has  been  very  hot  and  work  is  not  very  plenti- 
ful in  chambers,  so  that  I  shall  be  glad  to  ^et  away  into  the 
country.  I  should  very  much  enjoy  spending  a  few  weeks  at 
Scilly.  It  is  fourteen  years  since  I  was  there.  I  hope  that  the 
sea  breezes  and  visit  to  Tresco  have  done  you  good.  I  could 
half  quarrel  with  you  for  being  unwell,  and  as  to  fretting  and 
anxiety  I  am  surprised  at  it  and  hope  you  will  forget  it  as  soon 
as  possible. 

m  LINCOLN'S  INN  41 

August  2  (St.  John's  College). — On  axriving  here  I  found 
comparatively  few  Fellows  in  residence.  The  grounds  are 
very  beautiful,  and  it  is  very  much  cooler  than  it  is  in  London. 
I  am  reading  a  httle  law,  and  if  I  can  keep  on  at  it  I  do  not 
know  when  I  shall  go  away. 

"  The  Long  "  was  enlivened  by  a  visit  from  the  friend 
who  watched  every  step  of  his  career  with  loving  interest. 

From  Dr.  Willan 

August  20,  1859. — The  few  days  I  passed  with  you  in  our 
dear  old  Alma  Mater  will  appear  as  a  charming  episode  in  the 
tale  of  My  Life  whenever  I  favour  the  world  with  that  valuable 
piece  of  autobiography. 

Among  the  friends  of  the  young  Fellow  to  whom  the 
Doctor  was  introduced  were  the  faithful  Roby,  and  Ferrers, 
afterwards  Master  of  Caius.  In  the  autumn  Mrs.  Courtney's 
health,  which  had  been  failing  for  several  years,  grew 
rapidly  worse  ;  but  since  the  happy  meeting  at  Chfton  she 
had  whoUy  ceased  to  worry  about  her  absent  son. 

From  his  Mother 

November  4,  1859. — I  can  assure  you  I  have  not  one  anxious 
thought  about  you  to  retard  my  recovery ;  but  you  must  not 
think  to  find  me  anything  like  well  at  Christmas.  With  such 
an  illness  one  can't  expect  to  be  anything  but  an  invalid  all 
the  winter. 

Before  the  end  of  the  year  she  was  dead.  Her  life  had 
been  something  of  a  struggle,  and  she  had  had  less  than 
her  share  of  sunshine  and  light-hearted  happiness  ;  but 
her  children  retained  a  loving  memory  of  her  simple  piety 
and  self-sacrificing  devotion.  John  Courtney  and  his  eldest 
son  possessed  some  common  intellectual  interests  in  which 
Sarah  Courtney  had  been  unable  to  share,  among  them  a 
love  of  Cornish  antiquities.  When  a  new  and  cheaper 
edition  of  the  Guide  to  Penzance  was  called  for,  the  author 
forwarded  the  publisher's  letter  and  asked  his  son  for 
criticisms  and  additions. 

42  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

From  his  Father 

August  31,  1861. — What  would  you  say  of  this  ?  I  will 
send  up  the  MSS.  for  your  alteration  ;  or  wiU  you  have  my 
interleaved  copy  ?  I  daily  write  something,  I  should  say 
nightly,  as  it  is  all  done  after  10.  I  intend  it  to  be  about  the 
size  of  the  last  book,  but  more  exact.  Can  you  give  any  hint 
about  the  hiU  castles  in  this  neighbourhood  and  the  fortified 
headlands  ?  They  puzzle  me  by  the  great  number,  for  West 
Penwith  could  never  contain  many  inhabitants  to  fight  these 
battles  some  people  seem  mad  about,  neither  was  it  so  rich  as 
to  attract  plunderers.  Between  us  we  must  work  out  this 

Leonard,  who  had  only  too  much  leisure  on  his  hands, 
took  his  duties  as  revising  editor  very  seriously,  and  a  mass 
of  notes  and  marginal  additions  embody  the  fruits  of  his 
researches.  The  young  barrister,  once  settled  in  London, 
proceeded  to  play  the  part  of  guide,  philosopher  and  friend 
to  his  brothers  and  sisters,  though  his  financial  position  was 
not  very  promising.  Mortimer  came  to  town  early  in  1859 
and  lived  with  Leonard  till  he  started  in  i860  for  India, 
finally  settling  in  Canada,  where  a  distinguished  career 
awaited  him.  William  joined  the  bachelor  menage  in  the 
same  year,  going  daily  to  the  City  of  London  School  before 
entering  the  office  of  the  Ecclesiastical  Commission  and 
winning  his  spurs  as  an  antiquarian.  A  third  brother, 
Acutt,  entered  the  circle  in  1861  and  accompanied  William 
to  his  school.  An  amusing  letter  from  his  sister  Margaret 
informs  Leonard  that  she  heard  from  a  friend  that  he  had 
grown  stouter  "  and  rather  more  fashionable  in  appearance." 
A  letter  to  his  father  describes  the  migration  of  the  Courtney 
colony  from  Gray's  Inn  to  Bloomsbury,  which  was  to  be 
his  home  for  ten  years. 

To  his  Father 

September  17,  1861. — We  are  still  here,  but  this  morning  I 
took,  subject  to  the  references  being  all  right,  a  set  of  rooms 
at  No.  35  Great  Ormond  Street,  next  door  to  a  house  Margaret 
and  I  went  into  called  Ormond  Chambers,  the  fine  staircase  of 

m  LINCOLN'S  INN  43 

which  she  may  remember.  Our  set  is  on  the  ground  floor. 
The  rent  and  all  attendance  is  to  be  £50  per  annum.  I  hope 
to  get  in  by  Saturday.  Before  taking  this  set  I  had  perambu- 
lated many  streets  and  seen  many  apartments  and  at  last  in- 
serted an  advertisement  in  last  Friday's  Times.  "  A  gentleman 
and  two  brothers  (16  and  14)  require  unfurnished  apartments 
with  attendance.  Within  two  miles  N.  or  N.W.  of  St.  Paul's. 
Dine  at  home  three  times  a  week."  I  got  nearly  thirty  answers 
at  prices  ranging  from  £30  to  £70.  The  other  low  priced  ones 
were  either  at  too  great  a  distance  or  in  very  bad  neighbourhoods 
or  small  dismal  rooms.  The  boys  get  on  very  well  and  promise 
to  continue  to  do  so. 

The  Bar  proved  even  more  disappointing  to  Courtney 
than  to  most  youthful  aspirants,  and  the  Cambridge  Fellow- 
ship had  to  be  supplemented  by  examinerships  and  journal- 
ism. An  occasional  excursion  to  the  provinces  proved  a 
welcome  change  to  one  who  retained  throughout  life  a 
passion  for  visiting  old  cities  and  churches. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

June  23,  1863,  4  Powis  Place. — I  said  just  now  at  tea-time 
that  it  was  the  23rd  of  June,  but  Will  could  or  would  attach 
no  significance  to  the  announcement.  I  suppose  by  this  time 
(nine  o'clock)  the  tar  barrels  have  been  set  out  and  lit,  and  lads 
are  going  up  and  down  Market  Jew  Street  waving  their  torches 
by  way  of  prelude  to  the  more  furious  fun  of  rockets  :  it  is  six 
years  since  I  was  home  on  Midsummer  Eve  nor  does  it  seem 
hkely  that  I  shall  be  in  Penzance  again  on  that  night  for  a  long 
time,  if  ever.  I  came  back  last  Thursday  afternoon  having 
enjoyed  my  excursion  very  much.  Examining  boys  is  hard 
enough  work  but"  it  has  many  pleasures,  especially  when  you 
are  taken  away  to  a  nice  old  city  Uke  York  and  are  entertained 
with  due  hospitality.  Boys  and  girls  of  a  still  tenderer  age 
are  the  finest  things  in  existence  ;  it  is  a  great  pity  that  they 
degenerate  so.  As  Charles  Lamb  said  of  the  Eton  cricketers. 
Who  would  not  regret  their  becoming  mere  magistrates  and 
Members  of  ParUament  ?  I  left  this  place  on  Monday  week  by 
the  12  o'clock  train,  the  weather  was  very  pleasant.  I  had 
engaged  to  meet  my  feUow-examiner  Stebbing  at  Peterborough. 
We  took  up  our  abode  at  Hawker's  Hotel,  a  very  comfortable 
house,  one  of  the  best  in  York.     As  our  expenses  are  paid,  the 

44  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

hotel  bill  is  sent  in  by  Stebbing  to  the  Chapter  Clerk,  who 
is  also  the  school  clerk,  who  reimburses  it.  On  Thursday  we 
dined  at  the  Head  Master's,  the  Rev.  Canon  Hey ;  he  gave 
us  a  very  good  dinner,  but  somehow  or  other  his  wines  were 
execrable.  Even  an  undermaster  afterwards  confided  to  me 
his  wonder  at  their  quality.  Next  day  we  dined  at  Mr.  Daniel's, 
the  Head  Master  of  Archbishop  Holgate's  school,  a  sort  of 
middle  class  school  which  we  examine  by  the  way ;  the  dinner 
there  was  very  swell  in  all  respects,  and  was  honoured  by  the 
presence  of  no  less  than  the  Lord  Mayor  of  York.  I  came  south 
to  Grantham  where  I  stopped  Tuesday,  Wednesday,  and  part 
of  Thursday;  'twas  examination  week  there.  We  went  on  to 
Belvoir ;  it  rained  so  we  spent  our  time  inside  the  castle  which 
I  had  seen  before  in  1856  after  an  Easter  walking  tour  in  Derby- 
shire. However  I  was  well  pleased  to  see  it  again,  and  dis- 
covered many  things  which  I  had  not  noted  or  appreciated 
before ;  a  lot  of  miniatures  in  the  drawing-room  detained  me 
some  time.  Kdnsinan  sent  me  his  catalogue  some  time  since. 
Will  thinks  it  would  be  desirable  to  secure  the  History  of  Henry 
Earl  of  M  or  eland,  in  verse  is.  6d.,  and  I  have  rather  a  hankering 
after  Madame  D'Arhlay's  Diary  and  Letters,  7  vols.  14s. 

In  1865  Louise,  the  youngest  member  of  the  family, 
left  home  for  London  ;  but,  though  she  resided  in  Bedford 
College,  she  looked  up  to  her  elder  brother  as  her  guardian 
and  guide,  and  her  reminiscences  throw  a  vivid  light  on 
the  occupations  and  interests  of  Leonard's  early  years  in 

"  My  earliest  recollections  of  my  brother  are  of  a  strong 
big  man  and  an  old  one.  My  father  naturally  seemed  of 
great  age  and  my  '  big  brother  Lilly,'  as  I  called  him,  not 
much  younger.  No  wonder  that  I  thought  him  strong, 
since  one  of  my  first  memories  is  being  carried  on  his  shoulder 
for  an  endless  journey  on  a  summer  evening.  A  few  years 
later  I  remember  him  reading  aloud  to  my  mother,  and  I 
played  with  my  doll  and  Ustened  at  times.  He  was  reading 
Scenes  from  Clerical  Life,  and  '  Amos  Barton  '  must  have 
attracted  my  attention,  as  ever  since  those  childish  days 
I  have  had  a  vivid  picture  in  my  imagination  of  '  little 
Dicky  Barton  well  wrapt  up  as  to  his  chest  but  very  red 
and  bare  as  to  his  legs  in  Mrs.  Hackitt's  poultry  yard.'     I 

in  LINCOLN'S  INN  45 

think  I  must  have  been  eight,  and  there  are  other  impres- 
sions in  my  mind  of  readings  to  my  mother  or  talks  with 
her  about  books  before  she  died  a  Uttle  more  than  a  year 
later.  Tennyson's  May  Queen  was  one  reading,  and  I 
certainly  heard  about  Adam  Bede  and  John  Halifax,  Gentle- 
man, and  must  have  been  hstening  when  he  read  Browning's 
Evelyn  Hope,  as  it  haunted  me  ;  and  I  have  a  distinct 
recollection  of  being  found  a  httle  later  reading  it  and  being 
told  I  was  a  morbid  little  girl. 

"  Concerning  his  life  at  Cambridge  I  have  only  vague 
ideas  of  hearing  about  his  rooms  and  of  dining  in  Hall.  I 
used  to  look  at  the  photographic  group,  the  Senior  Wrangler 
of  1855  Savage,  and  the  next  two  Courtney  and  Elsee, 
which  hung  on  our  dining-room  wall.  The  poems  I  had 
from  my  brother  on  Valentine's  Day  and  Advent  Sunday — 
The  Feast  Day  at  Penzance — were  far  more  interesting. 
In  after  years  I  remember  hearing  of  one  incident  which 
connected  the  time  when  the  news  of  Leonard's  place  in  the 
Mathematical  Tripos  reached  Penzance  with  Charles  Lamb's 
Schooldays.  The  C.  V.  Le  G.  of  Lamb's  essay,  Christ's 
Hospital  Five  and  Thirty  Years  Ago,  Hved  in  1855  and  for 
many  years  previously  near  Penzance,  and  on  hearing  the 
news  of  Leonard's  success  walked  into  the  town  to  see  my 
father  and  congratulate  him,  Mr.  C.  V.  Le  Grice  being  then 
eighty-two.  From  ten  to  fifteen  I  do  not  think  I  could 
have  seen  very  much  of  my  brother,  but  I  remember  talks 
about  the  reviews  he  wrote  of  Miss  Yonge's  Christian 
Names  and  other  books  for  The  Times.  These  reviews  very 
much  interested  my  father  and  the  elder  members  of  the 
family,  and  I  recollect  the  enthusiasm  with  which  Dr. 
Willan  talked  to  me  about  them. 

"  Just  after  I  was  fifteen  I  went  to  Bedford  College,  and 
during  the  four  years  I  was  there  I  was  much  with  my 
brothers.  For  the  greater  part  of  the  time  I  had  three  in 
London  and  spent  every  Sunday  with  them.  At  that 
time  Bedford  College  was  in  Bedford  Square,  and  Leonard 
and  a  younger  brother  lived  in  Powis  Place  close  to  Queen's 
Square,  Bloomsbury.  Early  in  the  morning  Leonard  came 
for  me  and  we  walked  to  St.  Peter's,  Vere  Street,  where  he 

46  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

had  sittings.     Frederick  Denison  Maurice  was  the  clergyman 
there,  and  Leonard  was  his  great  admirer  and  follower. 
The  service  was  long,  slow  and  I  thought  very  dull.     But 
there  was  one  part  of  the  service  to  which  I  always  looked 
forward,  and  that  was  when  Mr.  Maurice  gave  the  Lord's 
Prayer  at  the  beginning  of  the  Communion  Service.     The 
beauty  of  the  Prayer,  with  his  reverent  way  of  saying  it, 
can  never  be  forgotten.     One  other  memory  of  the  Church 
is  the  fervour  with  which  my  brother  used  to  sing  some  of 
the  hymns.    After  Church  we  sometimes  met  friends  and 
had  walks  with  them.    Mr.  Thornton  (Thornton,  On  Labour) 
was  one,  and  he  and  Leonard  discussed  questions  of  the 
day.     I  hstened  to  their  talk,  and  probably  my  interest  in 
Pohtical  Economy  began  with  these  walks.    Mr.  Westlake 
and  his  wife  were  other  friends  who  went  to  Vere  Street 
Chiu-ch.     Every  few  weeks  we  walked  across  the  Park  to 
Mr.  and  Mrs.  Roby's  house  in  Pimlico,  and  lunched  with 
them.     The  Robys  were  both  ardent  Liberals,  both  much 
interested  in  education,  Mr.  Roby  being  at  that  time  with 
the  Endowed  School  Commission,  and  Mrs.  Roby  working 
with  some  of  the  schemes  for  the   advancement  of  the 
education  of  women.     More  political  talk  and  Cambridge 
doings  characterised  these  very  friendly  httle  luncheons. 
At  an  early  hour,  about  5.30  I  think,  the  three  brothers  and 
I  dined  together.     I  remember  at  these  dinners  great  argu- 
ments chiefly  between  Leonard  and  myself,  in  spite  of  the 
big  difference  in  our  ages.     My  leanings  then  were  very 
much   towards   Toryism    and    High    Church.     The    other 
brothers  watched  and  listened  with  amusement,  and  one 
of  them,  who  at  9.30  walked  back  with  me  to  Bedford 
College,  has  told  me  how  unconsciously  I  had  acquired 
some  of  the  expressions  and  gestures  of  my  brother  Leonard 
and  produced  them  when  arguing  with  him.     He  had  great 
toleration  of  religious  opinions,  but  in  small  matters  of  life 
I  should  say  in  my  early  girlhood  and  womanhood  he  was 
very  critical. 

"  In  those  days  at  Bedford  College  from  fifteen  to  nine- 
teen my  brother  introduced  me  to  many  of  his  friends  who 
were  very  kind  to  the  shy  girl  and  with  whom  friendship 

Ill  LINCOLN'S  INN  47 

ripened  and  has  continued  all  through  my  life.  For  my 
seventeenth  birthday  treat  he  took  me  to  a  Saturday 
Popular  Concert  at  St.  James's  HaU  to  listen  to  the  delightful 
string  quartette  led  by  Joachim.  Two  of  his  friends  Mr. 
William  Stebbing  and  Mr.  T.  Bodley  were  with  us  and  came 
back  to  my  birthday  dinner  at  Powis  Place.  The  constant 
and  intimate  friendship  between  Mr.  Stebbing  and  my 
brother  is  well  known,  and  I  am  glad  to  have  two  special 
memories  connected  with  it — my  seventeenth  birthday 
party  and  a  httle  tea  party  in  March  last  half  a  century 
later,  when  Mr.  and  Mrs.  Stebbing,  my  brother  and  a  few 
other  old  friends  met  at  my  house. 

"  Not  only  was  Sunday  spent  with  the  brothers  but  not 
infrequently  other  afternoons,  when  sometimes  we  went 
for  country  walks  in  Eppinp  Forest,  Hampstead  or  Highgate, 
or  visited  Hampton  Court  or  Kew.  So  many  first  doings 
are  associated  with  these  years.  On  my  first  day  in  London 
I  was  taken  to  Christie's,  the  National  Gallery,  the  Academy ; 
other  picture  exhibitions,  *  Private  Views  '  were  all  visited 
with  Leonard.  One  surprising  first  experience  I  remember 
was  when  I  was  eighteen,  and  he  told  me  he  was  going  to 
give  a  dinner  party  and  I  was  to  be  hostess.  This  was  a 
much  more  formal  affair  than  the  httle  party  on  my  seven- 
teenth birthday,  and  I  felt  some  dread  about  it ;  but  Mr. 
Scott,  afterwards  Sir  John,  took  me  into  dinner  and  was 
very  kind  and  sympathetic,  and  my  shyness  soon  went. 
The  intercourse  which  began  on  that  day  went  on  increasing 
in  friendship  and  intimacy  until  his  death  in  1904. 

"  In  my  studies  at  the  College  Leonard  naturally  took 
great  interest.  He  was  particularly  convinced  that  a 
knowledge  of  mathematics  was  very  essential  for  women.  I 
remember,  when  at  one  time  I  wanted  to  give  up  mathe- 
matics, he  wrote  a  long  letter  to  me  stating  how  desirable  it 
was  to  go  on  with  them  to  develop  my  reasoning  faculties. 
The  same  motive  I  think  made  him  some  years  later  ask  me 
to  read  Lucretius  with  him  in  a  leisurely  month  which  he, 
two  other  members  of  the  family  and  I  spent  together  in 
Holland.  For  several  years  after  leaving  Bedford  College 
in  1869  there  was  much  intercourse  with  him, — long  visits 

48  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

to  London,  continental  travel,  a  visit  with  him  to  Canada, 
and  every  year  Christmas  at  Penzance.  In  the  first  two 
winters  after  leaving  Bedford  College  I  read  at  Penzance 
with  Dr.  Willan,  his  old  tutor,  and  had  from  him  many 
reminiscences  of  his  much  loved  pupil  Leonard.  These 
readings  seemed  to  hnk  me  with  Leonard's  early  days,  and 
I  remember  in  our  country  walks  when  he  came  at  Christmas 
we  used  to  discuss  Horace  and  other  authors  we  had  both 
enjoyed  with  Dr.  Willan." 

The  recollections  of  his  oldest  surviving  friend,  Mr. 
WilUam  Stebbing,  throw  further  Hght  on  the  personaUty 
and  pursuits  of  the  briefless  barrister. 

"  My  friendship  with  Leonard  Courtney  lasted  from 
rather  before  we  both  were  called  to  the  Bar,  he  in  June, 
and  I  in  November,  1858.  Never  once  was  it  broken. 
Friends  of  both  will  recognise  that,  as  each  hked  his  own 
way,  this  is  a  remarkable  fact.  It  began  from  the  accident 
of  a  vacant  seat  in  a  mess  of  four  in  Lincoln's  Inn  Hall. 
There,  as  in  a  multitude  of  similar  cases,  it  might  have 
ended.  He  from  Cambridge  had  many  University  acquaint- 
ances. I  had  some  from  Oxford.  As  it  happened  a  week 
or  two  later  I  paid  a  few  days'  visit  to  a  future  brother-in- 
law,  Robert  Batty,  hke  Courtney  a  Second  Wrangler,  Tutor 
of  Emanuel.  Here  at  dinner  I  met  Courtney  from  John's, 
of  which  he  was  a  Fellow.  The  chance  brought  us  a  little 
closer.  Never  have  I  had  much  readiness  in  sociability ; 
he  was  better  gifted.  He  was  deep  in  the  coimcils  of  the 
University  reformers,  who,  especially  from  the  Inns  of 
Court,  bombarded  the  citadels  of  academical  abuses.  When 
such  innovators  were  festively  inclined,  and  founded  in 
a  court  off  Pall  Mall  a  weekly  Club,  the  Century,  I  had  never 
heard  of  it  till  he  took  me  to  a  meeting.  Through  his  choice 
suddenly,  by  what  degrees  I  know  not,  we  were  friends. 
I  became  even  friend  of  his  friends,  such  as  John  Rigby, 
though  with  somewhat  less  of  warmth.  His  was  not  a 
nature  to  measure  intimacy.  My  Chambers  for  business, 
where  also  I  Hved,  were  successively  in  Chancery  Lane  and 
Lincoln's  Inn.     His  were  on  the  staircase  of  Lincoln's  Inn 

m  LINCOLN'S  INN  49 

Chapel.  He  used  them  for  business  only,  sharing  occupa- 
tion with  F.  G.  A.  Williams,  who  lives  in  the  affection  of  the 
few  who  survive.  As  a  dwelling  he  had  hired  lodgings  in 
Powis  Place,  Bloomsbury,  for  himself  and  two  brothers. 
The  position  was  recommended  by  its  neighbourhood  to 
Bedford  College,  where  a  young  sister  was  a  student.  Tea 
in  Powis  Place  and  whist  were  the  common  termination 
of  long  Saturday  suburban  walks  and  talk.  Work  fully 
engrossed  our  days,  and  a  majority  of  evenings.  At  first 
for  him  as  well  as  for  me  it  was  on  the  hues  our  profession 
marked  out.  Nature  had  implanted  in  him  a  love  of  the 
certainty  of  mathematical  conclusions  following  from  the 
premisses.  He  had  turned  the  inclination  to  ample  account 
at  Cambridge.  Somehow  Real  Property  Law,  with  its 
forms  and  precedents,  has  an  affinity  to  mathematics. 
Having  no  ambition  for  an  academical  career,  he  chose  the 
legal  profession  almost  as  of  course.  In  Christie's  famous 
Chambers  he  made  himself  an  excellent  conveyancer.  Had 
solicitors  found  him  out  in  time,  he  might  have  pioneered 
through  briefs  his  path  into  politics,  ending  with  the  Bench. 
"As  it  was,  one  bulky  and  dusty  set  of  papers,  with  a 
Leader's  and  his  own  names  upon  it,  for  years  reminded 
visitors  to  the  Chambers  of  his  vocation.  He  never  lost 
his  legal  learning,  though  I  doubt  if  he  ever  held  a  second 
brief.  When  a  brave  publisher  started  the  New  Reports 
with  future  Lord  Chancellors,  Attorneys  General,  Puisne 
Judges,  and,  I  think,  a  Speaker,  on  the  staff,  his  name 
was  there  too.  I  have  the  vanity  to  add  mine.  But  he 
had  ceased  to  reckon  on  law  professionally.  Neglect  did 
not  vex  him.  He  never  complained.  Like  myself  he  eked 
out  a  College  Fellowship  by  literature  and  examining.     We  s/ 

were  colleagues  on  such  expeditions  to  Grantham  and  York. 
At  the  former  a  boy,  Colhngwood,  won  a  chief  prize,  and 
had  to  recite  a  poem.  Courtney,  in  the  good  spirits  of  a 
hohday  from  London,  composed  verses  for  him  in  which, 
though  kindred  was  modestly  disclaimed,  the  deeds  of 
Nelson's  colleague  were  recalled." 

In  addition  to  William  Stebbing,  Courtney  saw  a  great 


50  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

deal  at  this  time  of  an  old  and  a  new  friend.  The  life-long 
comradeship  with  Roby,  Senior  Classic  in  185 1  and  a  Fellow 
of  St.  John's,  began  after  taking  his  degree  in  1855.  Brief 
hohdays  were  often  spent  together,  and  many  were  the 
visits  to  Dulwich  College  where  Roby  was  a  Master  from 
1861  to  1865.  The  friendship  with  Westlake  began  a  httle 
later,  when  both  men  were  yomig  students  of  law  in  London. 
"  I  do  not  remember  the  commencement  of  our  acquaint- 
ance," wrote  Lord  Courtney  in  his  chapter  contributed  to 
the  Memories  of  John  Westlake.  "  I  must  have  come  to 
know  him  soon  after  I  took  up  residence  in  London,  and  in 
the  early  sixties  acquaintance  ripened  into  intimacy  and 
friendship.  A  circumstance  which  doubtless  helped  their 
development  was  the  fact  that  Westlake,  like  myself,  was 
a  zealous  Comishman.  During  his  earher  married  Hfe  I 
was  a  frequent  guest  at  the  very  attractive  gatherings  in 
his  hospitable  house  in  Oxford  Square."  A  second  tie  was 
the  fact  that  Mrs.  Westlake  was  the  daughter  of  Thomas 
Hare,  to  whom  Courtney  already  looked  up  as  one  of  his 
poHtical  masters.  "  Westlake's  acceptance  of  the  principles 
of  the  great  work  of  his  father-in-law  was  strengthened  if 
not  originated  by  Mill ;  and  it  was  in  relation  to  Propor- 
tional Representation  that  my  own  poUtical  intimacy  with 
him  first  deepened."  Most  of  Courtney's  early  friendships 
were  made  for  life  ;  and  though  his  name  was  still  unknown 
to  the  public  his  friends  were  well  aware  of  his  exceptional 
powers,  and  shared  his  confidence  that  in  the  fulness  of 
time  he  would  come  to  his  own. 

While  he  was  still  at  college  Richard  Oliver  had  written 
from  Melbourne  urging  him  to  keep  his  eyes  open  for  a 
Melbourne  professorship ;  but  a  colonial  career  had  no 
attractions  for  him,  and  when  a  pecuniarily  advantageous 
offer  was  made  in  1861  he  declined  it  without  much  hesita- 

From  his  Father 

April  2,  1861. — Mr.  Bolitho  asked  me  yesterday  if  I  thought 
you  would  undertake  the  management  of  a  bank  at  Sydney, 
salary  about  ;£iooo.  Whether  desirable  or  not  I  leave  you  to 


From  his  Father 

April  6. — I  had  your  letter  this  morning.  I  have  no  wish 
that  you  should  go  abroad,  and  have  told  Mr.  BoUtho  you  had 
decUned  the  offer.  Regarding  your  own  affairs  I  have  no  doubt 
you  will  have  much  uphill  work  and  wiU  suffer  many  disappoint- 
ments, but  in  the  end  will  succeed  if  you  take  a  stand  upon 
industry  and  honour.  Nothing  is  more  conducive  to  our  well- 
being  than  a  striving  against  adverse  or  rather  unfavourable 
circumstances.     A  too  easy  life  is  ruination. 

From  R.  E.  Hooppell 

April  10,  1861. — It  is,  I  can  well  imagine,  a  source  of  per- 
plexity that  the  Sydney  offer  should  be  made  just  now  and 
not  a  few  years  later.  You  have  not  given  the  legal  profession 
a  fair  trial.  I  can  offer  no  advice.  I  should  see  with  great 
sorrow  your  departure,  not  on  personal  grounds  but  from  a 
feehng  that  our  country  had  lost  one  who  has  the  ability  and, 
I  beUeve,  the  earnest  will  to  benefit  her  largely,  if  only  a  channel 
CO  ul  be  opened  up  through  which  his  ability  and  will  might 
operate.  At  the  same  time  I  have  ever  thought  it  one  of  the 
greatest  and  most  responsible  positions  a  man  can  occupy  to 
be  among  the  genuine  builders  of  a  new  country. 

A  thousand  a  year  must  have  seemed  affluence,  and 
may  well  have  appealed  for  a  fleeting  moment  to  the  young 
barrister,  who  after  three  years  in  London  had  realised  that 
success  at  the  Bar  was  probably  beyond  his  reach.  Though 
a  bachelor  he  was  also  head  of  a  household,  with  a  keen 
sense  of  responsibility  for  the  welfare  of  its  inmates.  His 
heart  was  never  in  the  law ;  for  he  possessed  the  qualities 
that  go  to  the  making  of  a  judge  rather  than  a  barrister.^ 
But  other  fields  were  open  to  him  ;  and  he  had  already 
dedicated  himself  to  the  task  in  which  he  was  to  find  the 
occupation  and  the  happiness  of  his  life, — the  formation  of 
pubHc  opinion. 

1  His  name  remained  in  the  Law  List ;  but  on  his  election  to  ParUa- 
ment  he  declined  in  debate  the  addition  to  "  honourable  "  of  "  learned." 



Courtney's  main  interest  during  his  early  years  in  London 
was  in  economic  and  financial  questions,  to  which  his 
mathematical  studies  afforded  a  valuable  apprenticeship. 
In  i860  appeared  the  first  of  his  innumerable  contributions 
to  the  discussion  of  pubhc  questions,  "  Direct  Taxation  ; 
an  Inquiry.  By  Leonard  H,  Courtney,  M.A.,  Fellow  of  St. 
John's  College,  Cambridge,  and  of  Lincoln's  Inn,  Barrister- 
at-Law.  Dedicated  to  the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer." 
The  purpose  of  the  pamphlet  was  explained  in  the  brief 
Preface.  "  As  the  House  of  Commons  has  during  the 
present  session  committed  itself  (as  far  as  a  ParHament 
may)  to  increasing  and  making  permanent  the  portion  of 
the  Revenue  raised  by  direct  taxation,  the  inquiries  as  to 
the  principle  upon  which  a  direct  tax  should  be  assessed 
and  the  method  available  to  carry  the  principle  into  practice 
seem  fit  for  a  renewed  discussion  ;  and  the  only  excuse  for 
one  who  enters  on  them  is  that  he  should  really  have  some- 
thing to  say.  So  many,  however,  and  so  diverse  have  been 
the  answers  already  given  by  men  the  most  eminent,  that 
a  writer  may  well  be  diffident  of  the  results  at  which  he 
has  arrived,  and  if  in  the  few  following  pages  I  ever  appear 
to  have  forgotten  this,  I  pray  the  courteous  reader  to 
believe  that  it  was  not  imtil  after  much  hesitation  and 
many  reviewals  that  I  have  hazarded  the  offence  of  sending 
forth  an  erroneous  or  even  unnecessary  speculation." 

With  the  Ught-hearted  courage  of  youth  the  young 
economist  attacked  Mill  and  Babbage,  and  maintained  that 
capitaUsation  is  the  only  just  and  practicable  method  of 



assessment  for  direct  taxation.  The  pamphlet  dealt  with 
highly  technical  matters  and  is  by  no  means  easy  reading, 
and  it  is  hardly  surprising  that  the  work  of  an  unknown 
barrister  attracted  but  little  attention.  The  author  was 
none  the  less  convinced  of  the  importance  of  his  labours, 
and  he  distributed  numerous  copies  among  his  friends. 

From  R.  E.  Hooppell 

February  20,  1861. — I  am  very  desirous  of  knowing  how 
your  pamphlet  on  Direct  Taxation  has  fared.  I  have  read  it 
with  great  interest  ;  but  my  belief  is  it  is  too  abstruse — too 
abstrusely  treated — for  it  to  win  much  favour.  Scarcely  one 
reviewer  would  read  it  patiently  enough  and  think  it  over  deeply 
enough  to  do  it  even  slender  justice.  And  as  for  the  public 
I  do  not  suppose  they  would  buy  a  dozen.  Your  plan  should 
be — or  shoidd  have  been — to  give  them  away  judiciously,  to 
send  copies  to  all  the  great  names  in  political  economics  and 
finance,  to  all  the  Ex-Chancellors  and  expectant  Chancellors  of 
the  Exchequer  and  all  the  M.P.'s  who  speak  on  such  questions. 
Mr.  Hubbard,  I  see  in  yesterday's  Times,  has  carried  his  motion 
for  a  Select  Committee  on  the  Inequalities  of  the  Income  Tax. 
To  him  and  to  every  member  of  the  Committee  you  ought  to 
send  a  copy,  and,  if  possible,  to  get  yourself  examined  by  it. 

Many  months  later  came  an  encouraging  letter  from  the 
oldest  of  his  friends  in  far-off  Melbourne. 

From  Richard  Oliver 

March  1862. — I  got  your  pamphlet  and  entirely  agree  with 
your  plan.  I  hope  you  did  not  feel  much  disappointed  at  not 
getting  it  extensively  read. 

The  lack  of  public  interest  in  his  scheme  in  no  way 
diminished  his  confidence  in  his  own  conclusions ;  and  he 
fearlessly  proceeded  to  break  a  lance  with  the  greatest  of 
hving  economists  in  a  letter  of  immense  length. 

54  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

To  J.  S.  Mill 

Sept.  17,  1861. — I  should  be  very  glad  if  I  could  secure 
your  attention  to  a  few  remarks  which  I  send  you  on  the  subject 
of  the  Income  and  Property  Tax.  I  have  been  reading  in  the 
last  few  days  your  evidence  before  Mr.  Hubbard's  Committee 
and  I  feel  under  the  necessity  of  writing  you  upon  it.  Your 
opinion  carries  in  truth  so  much  weight  with  it,  and  I  must 
frankly  add  it  appears  to  me  to  be  on  this  subject  so  insecure, 
that  it  is  of  great  importance  to  examine  it  a  Uttle  more  closely. 
.  .  .  These  are  only  hints,  but  they  may  perhaps  serve  to  induce 
you  to  reconsider  the  abstract  question  of  the  justice  of  capitalisa- 
tion as  the  basis  of  a  direct  tax ;  they  involve  a  consideration 
which  I  confess  does  not  appear  to  me  to  have  received  proper 
attention.  I  have  not  touched  on  the  question  of  practica- 
bility ;  but  I  may  say  the  difficulty  of  this  question  is  overrated. 
Could  I  know  that  I  had  shaken  your  opinion  as  to  the  justice 
of  the  capitalisation  theory  I  would  gladly  explain  to  you  how 
I  believe  it  can  be  carried  out.  But  even  though  it  were  utterly 
impracticable,  it  is  surely  most  important  to  determine  the  true 
foundation  of  direct  taxation.  I  find  on  reading  over  these 
remarks  that  they  are  characterised  by  a  plainness  and  direct- 
ness which  I  must  ask  you  to  pardon.  I  can  assure  you  they 
are  conceived  in  a  feeling  of  great  respect ;  nor  should  I  venture 
to  send  them  to  you  save  for  my  trust  in  the  singular  candour 
your  works  exhibit. 

Mill's  response  was  a  courteous  but  uncompromising 
rejection  of  the  arguments  of  his  youthful  critic  ;  and  the 
controversy  was  terminated  but  not  settled  by  a  second 
letter  from  the  author  of  Direct  Taxation. 

To  J.  S.  Mill 

Sept.  20,  186 1. — I  am  very  much  obliged  to  you  for  your 
answer  to  my  remarks.  I  know  you  must  be  much  troubled 
with  idle  communications,  nor  should  I  have  written  to  yoii 
but  that  I  thought  I  was  presenting  to  your  notice  some  argu- 
ments with  respect  to  which  I  could  discover  no  trace  that 
they  had  ever  been  considered  by  you.  But  though  I  feel 
grateful  to  you  for  writing  to  me,  I  must  own  that  the  perusal 
of  your  letter  much  saddened  me,  and  that  because,  from  the 
irrelevancy  of  your  confutation,  it  appeared  that  I  had  failed 


to  make  myself  understood.  You  say  that  the  actuaries  argue 
that  income  of  equal  capitalised  value  should  pay  equal  amounts 
to  the  tax.  It  is  very  possible  that  you  will  find  this  language 
used  by  some  of  them  ;  but  it  is  not  mine  and  indeed  it  is  quite 
at  variance  with  my  view  of  the  subject,  I  am  bold  therefore 
to  beg  of  you  once  more  to  read  my  former  letter.  I  do  not 
ask  you  to  write  me  again  if  on  a  second  perusal  you  are  satisfied 
that  you  had  entirely  mastered  my  position  at  the  first.  In 
that  case  I  would  beg  of  you  to  pardon  my  urgency. 

Though  the  two  men  agreed  to  differ  on  the  Income 
Tax  their  views  on  most  questions  of  politics  and  economics 
were  very  similar  ;  and  before  long  Courtney  was  to  become 
the  friend  as  well  as  the  disciple  of  the  leading  English 
thinker  of  his  generation. 

In  the  summer  of  1861  the  Whately  Professorship  of 
Political  Economy  in  Dublin,  tenable  for  five  years  and 
worth  ;^ioo  a  year,  fell  vacant,  and  Courtney  journeyed  to 
the  Irish  capital  for  the  examination  which  candidates  were 
compelled  to  undergo.  The  prize  fell  to  another  ;  but  he 
convinced  the  most  eminent  of  the  examiners  that  he  was 
the  best  qualified  for  the  post.  The  incident  is  described 
in  a  letter  written  by  Professor  Caimes  in  1863  in  support 
of  an  application  for  a  post  of  greater  importance. 

From  Professor  Caimes  to  Professor  Pryme 

March  29,  1863. — My  acquaintance  with  Mr.  Courtney 
occurred  in  this  way.  Some  two  years  since,  on  the  Professor- 
ship in  Dublin  University  (the  appointment  to  which  takes 
place  by  competitive  examination)  becoming  vacant,  he  pre- 
sented himself  as  a  candidate  and  I  happened  to  be  one  of  the 
examiners.  This  gave  me  an  unusual  opportunity  of  forming 
a  judgment  as  to  his  ability  and  acquirements  in  economic 
science,  and  the  result  of  the  examination  was  to  leave  on  my 
mind  the  conviction  that  both  were  of  a  very  high  order.  I 
accordingly — notwithstanding  that  he  was  surpassed  by  another 
.  candidate  on  the  numerical  total  of  answering — urged  his  appoint- 
ment on  the  Board  of  Trinity  College  in  the  strongest  terms  I 
could  command.  He  was  not  appointed,  the  other  examiners 
having  concurred  in  recommending  the  candidate  who  was  on 
my  Ust  also  first  in   the  numerical  total.     In  recommending 

56  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

his  appointment  as  I  did  I  may  take  credit  to  myself  for  some 
candour,  his  views  on  several  questions  in  Pohtical  Economy, 
as  well  of  principle  as  of  practical  application,  being  at 
variance  with  my  own.  Nevertheless,  so  impressed  was  I  with 
the  originaHty  of  his  mind,  his  searching  power  of  analysis, 
and  the  importance  of  bringing  minds  of  this  class  into  direct 
contact  with  the  economic  problems  of  the  day,  that  I  did  not 
hesitate  to  urge  his  election.  The  same  conviction,  strengthened 
by  the  perusal  of  some  essays  on  economic  subjects  from  his  pen 
which  I  have  since  seen,  makes  me  anxious  that  his  quaHfications 
should  be  made  known. 

The  disappointment  was  not  very  severe  ;  for  the  prize 
was  small  and  the  expectation  of  success  not  very  high. 
An  old  friend  who  had  left  Penzance  to  seek  his  fortune  in 
Canada  wrote  from  Prince  Edward  Island  urging  him  to 
follow  his  example. 

From  Alfred  Purchase 

September  1861. — I  do  not  feel  sorry  you  did  not  get  the 
Professorship  in  Dublin  ;  it  does  not  seem  worth  while  to  be 
tied  there  for  five  years  at  £100.  If  you  would  like  to  get  on 
rapidly  come  to  the  provinces.  The  ladder,  of  course,  is  not  so 
high,  but  it  is  much  easier  to  get  up  without  the  wear  and  tear 
of  rubbing  against  others. 

Hooppell,  sometimes  a  little  inclined  to  play  the  part 
of  the  candid  friend,  told  him  bluntly  that  his  opinions 
stood  in  the  way  of  success. 

From  R.  E.  Hooppell 

February  28,  1862. — I  read  Professor  Caimes's  letter  with 
the  greatest  interest  and  pleasure.  The  only  thing  that  vexed 
me  in  it  was  that  the  other  three  examiners  did  not  concur  in 
his  recommendation.  Being  Irishmen  I  hardly  expected  that 
they  would.  Moreover  you  have  peculiar  views  on  various 
poHtical  and  economical  questions,  views,  I  must  say,  I  do  not 
always  consider  correct. 

The  rebuff  at  Dublin  was  not  without  its  compensations  ; 
for  it  brought  Courtney  one  of  the  most  valued  and  fruitful 
friendships    of   his    life.     If   the    primacy   axnong   British 


economists  was  by  universal  agreement  accorded  to  Mill, 
no  one  in  the  'sixties  possessed  a  better  claim  to  the  second 
place  than  Caimes.  In  such  a  field  it  is  the  testimony  of 
experts  that  counts ;  and  there  were  few  men  in  the 
academic  world  of  the  third  quarter  of  the  century  in  regard 
to  whom  the  verdict  of  scholars  was  so  nearly  unanimous. 
Winning  the  Whately  Professorship  of  Political  Economy 
at  Dublin  in  1856,  he  quickly  attracted  attention  by  the 
publication  in  1857  of  his  brilliant  lectures  on  The  Char- 
acter and  Logical  Method  of  Political  Economy.  As  the 
Dubhn  Chair  was  only  tenable  for  five  years  he  exchanged 
it  for  that  of  Queen's  College,  Galway,  in  1859.  His  work 
on  The  Slave  Power,  based  on  a  course  of  lectures  and 
pubUshed  in  1862  by  Mill's  advice,  was  the  most  powerful 
defence  of  the  cause  of  the  Northern  States  produced  on 
this  side  of  the  Atlantic.  His  methods,  not  less  than  his 
opinions,  were  of  precisely  the  character  which  appealed 
most  forcibly  to  a  man  trained  like  Courtney  in  mathe- 
matical principles.  "  The  characteristic  of  his  mind," 
wrote  Bagehot  after  his  death,  "  was  a  tenacious  grasp 
of  abstract  principle.  There  is  an  Euclidian  precision 
about  his  writings.  Reading  his  works  is  like  living  on 
high  ground ;  the  '  thin  air  of  abstract  truth '  which 
they  give  you  braces  the  mind  just  as  fine  material  air 
does  the  body."  ^ 

The  distinguished  Irish  economist  testified  to  the  faith 
that  was  in  him  when  his  young  friend  stood  for  the  chair 
of  Political  Economy  at  Cambridge  in  1863.  The  subject 
had  received  academic  recognition  \>y  the  appointment  of 
an  ill-paid  professor  in  1828  ;  but  Pryme  was  not  an  expert, 
and  when  the  old  man  resigned  in  1863  the  salary  was  raised 
to  £300  a  year,  and  responsible  duties  attached  to  it.  When 
the  approaching  vacancy  was  announced  Courtney  asked 
Caimes  for  his  support,  unless  he  proposed  to  stand  himself  , 
and  Cairnes  threw  himself  into  the  contest  with  whole- 
hearted resolution. 

*  Biographical  Studies. 


From  Professor  Cairnes 

March  15. — I  have  not  seen  the  advertisement,  nor  have  I 
any  idea  of  presenting  myself  as  a  candidate,  and  I  have  great 
satisfaction  in  giving  you  the  testimonial  you  wish  for.  If  it 
is  wanting  in  strength  or  point  permit  me  to  assure  you  that 
this  is  owing  entirely  to  my  deficiency  in  power  of  expression 
and  not  at  all  to  any  difl&culty  about  giving  you  the  highest 
testimonial  I  could  frame. 

Courtney's  next  letter  informed  his  Irish  friend  and 
champion  that  there  was  so  little  hope  of  success,  since 
other  and  better  known  candidates  had  appeared,  that  he 
hardly  cared  to  compete ;  but  Cairnes  urged  him  to  go 
forward  and  was  fertile  in  promises  and  encouragement. 

From  Professor  Cairnes 

March  19. — If  you  have  an  essay  on  an  economic  subject 
which  you  would  have  no  objection  to  submit  to  Mill  and  would 
allow  me  to  be  the  medium  of  conveying  it,  I  think  I  might 
interest  him  in  your  behalf  in  such  a  way  as  to  draw  from  him 
an  expression  of  opinion  that  might  be  serviceable.  Your 
remark  on  Fawcett's  pretensions  entirely  coincides  with  the 
opinion  I  had  formed  of  him  ;  though  perhaps  I  should  have 
gone  somewhat  further  in  an  unfavourable  sense.  His  specula- 
tions on  gold  I  thought  exceedingly  flimsy.  Macleod  I  should 
be  sorry  to  see  appointed ;  but  he  struck  me  as  a  man  of  more 
power  than  his  rival. 

MiU  was  committed  to  Fawcett  ;  but  the  postponement 
of  the  election  tiU  the  late  autumn  appeared  to  Cairnes 
favourable  to  the  chances  of  his  candidate.  An  unsuccessful 
application  for  an  examinership  in  pohtical  economy  at 
London  University  called  forth  his  ready  sympathy. 

From  Professor  Cairnes 

May  3. — I  am  really  exceedingly  disappointed  at  this  result, 
not  that  it  is  of  much  importance  in  itself  but  as  a  'point  d'appui 
with  a  view  to  the  Professorship. 


A  fortnight  later  he  is  advocating  an  effort  on  the  part 
of  the  candidate  himself. 

From  Professor  Cairnes 

May  18. — On  the  whole  I  am  inclined  to  take  a  much  more 
hopeful  view  of  your  chance  from  all  you  teU  me,  and  I  trust 
this  is  also  your  disposition.  You  spoke  some  time  ago  of 
writing  something  on  which  you  might  obtain  the  opinion  of 
competent  judges.  Might  it  not  be  well  to  do  this  at  as  early 
a  point  of  time  as  possible  so  as  to  secure  such  of  the  constituency 
as  are  Uke  to  be  influenced  by  considerations  of  this  kind  (I 
suppose  a  small  fraction)  before  they  have  committed  themselves 
to  a  side  ? 

Meanwhile  the  other  candidates  were  also  bestirring 
themselves,  and  canvassing  proceeded  merrilj''  throughout 
the  summer. 

From  Professor  Cairnes 

May  23. — I  have  received  a  letter  from  Fawcett,  asking  me 
for  a  testimonial.  I  of  course  declined,  excusing  myself  on  the 
ground  that  I  had  already  expressed  an  opinion  in  your  favour, 
I  am  not  a  little  astonished  that  he  should  have  thought  it  worth 
while  to  apply  to  me. 

May  26. — I  confess  I  am  surprised  at  Mill's  testimonial  to 
Fawcett.  I  can  understand  his  testifying  to  his  "  sound  know- 
ledge," also  to  the  value  of  some  of  his  illustrations,  but  how  he 
could  credit  him  with  "  clear  and  precise  exposition  "  passes 
my  comprehension.  I  do  not,  any  more  than  you,  attach  much 
importance  to  testimonials  ;  stiU  it  would  be  as  well  if  you  get 
some  name  to  go  near  balancing  Mill's.  Have  any  of  your 
writings  come  under  Lord  Overstone's  notice  ?  You  are  most 
welcome  to  make  any  use  you  please  of  my  letter  of  August  2, 
186 1.  In  the  event,  however,  of  your  using  it  as  a  testimonial, 
as  I  have  referred  in  it  to  "  important  points  "  on  which  your 
views  differ  from  mine,  it  is  perhaps  right  that  I  should  add 
that,  with  one  exception,  these  are  points  with  reference  to  which, 
while  differing  from  me  in  common  with  the  English  school  of 
Political  Economy,  you  are  at  one  with  Bastiat,  Say  and  some 
of  the  most  eminent  economists  of  France.  The  one  exception 
is  the  vexed  question  of  the  Bank  Act  of  1844,  to  the  poUcy  of 
which  you  subscribe  while  I  dissent  from  it.     I  should  also  add 

6o  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

that  having,  since  the  date  of  my  letter,  read  several  essays  from 
your  pen  on  economic  subjects,  I  have  had  my  original  opinion 
of  your  general  abiUty  as  well  as  of  special  aptitude  for  economic 
speculation  not  merely  confirmed  but  greatly  strengthened, 
and  that  I  shall  regard  your  appointment  to  a  Chair  of  Political 
Economy  as  a  real  gain  to  the  science. 

The  election  was  fixed  for  November  27,  and  four  candi- 
dates presented  themselves.^  The  electors,  who  were  chiefly 
resident  Masters  of  Arts,  v/ere  expected  to  prefer  a  resident. 
The  favourite  was  Fawcett,  a  Fellow  of  Trinity  Hall,  and  a 
popular  figure  in  the  University  and  beyond.  His  Manual 
of  Political  Economy,  opportunely  pubhshed  at  the  begin- 
ning of  the  year,  had  found  a  ready  welcome  in  the  wide 
circles  which  desired  to  understand  Mill's  system  without 
the  effort  of  reading  his  book  ;  and  he  produced  an  army 
of  testimonials  with  which  none  of  his  rivals  could  compete. 
Mayor,  the  other  resident  candidate,  a  Fellow  and  Tutor 
of  St.  John's,  had  speciaUsed  in  moral  science  ;  but  he  was 
loyally  supported  by  the  Master  and  most  of  the  Fellows 
of  his  College  The  third  candidate,  Macleod,  was  an 
expert ;  but  his  views  aroused  contemptuous  and  even 
angry  antagonism.  Courtney's  abilities  were  known  to  his 
friends  but  unknown  to  the  world,  and  his  chances  were 
generally  considered  as  slender  as  those  of  Macleod.  Thus 
the  contest  lay  between  Fawcett  and  Mayor ;  and  by  a 
curious  coincidence  Courtney's  candidature  proved  an 
essential  element  in  the  success  of  the  man  who  was  one 
day  to  become  his  most  intimate  friend  and  associate.  The 
situation  is  explamed  by  Leslie  Stephen,  one  of  the  most 
ardent  of  Fawcett's  supporters.  "  One  consideration  turned 
out  to  be  decisive.  Members  of  St.  John's  College,  unless 
they  were  beUed,  had  a  private  decalogue,  including  the 
commandment.  Thou  shalt  not  vote  against  a  Johnian, 
Fawcett  had  some  very  warm  friends  in  St.  John's,  who 
sincerely  thought  him  the  best  man,  but  who  would  not 
allow  that  opinion  to  divert  them  from  the  plain  path  of 
duty.    Courtney,  however,  was  a  Johnian  as  well  as  Mayor  ; 

^  The  story  is  told  at  length  in  LesUe  Stephen's  Life  of  Fawcett, 
chap.  iii. 


and  though  his  chances  were  known  to  be  infinitesimal,  they 
could  vote  for  hini  without  inconsistency.  Such  votes 
would  be  taken  from  Mayor,  though  not  transferred  to 
Fawcett.  Fawcett's  chance  thus  came  to  depend  on  Court- 
ney's  to  stand,  and  thus  to  divide  the  soHd 
Johnian  phalanx.  Courtney  fortunately  held  that  he  was 
pledged  to  his  supporters  to  go  to  the  poll,  and  they  held 
him  to  his  pledge."  The  result  was  in  accordance  with 
expectation.  Fawcett,  90 ;  Mayor,  80 ;  Courtney,  19 ; 
Macleod,  14.  As  Courtney  had  cherished  no  illusions,  he 
was  perhaps  less  disappointed  than  his  principal  champion.^ 

From  Professor  Cairnes 

November  30. — I  am  heartily  sorry  at  the  result,  as  much 
on  pubUc  as  on  personal  grounds.  Fawcett  will,  I  daresay, 
fill  the  Chair  respectably,  but  I  have  no  expectation  that  the 
science  will  gain  in  his  keeping,  which  I  believe  it  would  have 
done  in  yours.  I  earnestly  hope  you  may  before  long  find  a 
position,  if  not  in  Cambridge  in  some  other  University,  suited 
to  your  pretensions. 

Courtney's  career  since  he  settled  in  London  at  the  end 
of  1857  had  been  a  series  of  disappointments.  There  were 
no  prospects  at  the  Bar,  and  Sir  Edward  Clarke  has  ex- 
pressed the  opinion  that  he  was  too  ligid  for  success  in  that 
school  of  compromise  and  accommodation.  His  efforts  to 
return  to  academic  life  had  been  fruitless.  His  pamphlet 
on  Direct  Taxation  had  attracted  no  attention.  In  one 
direction  alone,  that  of  joumaUsm,  could  he  point  to  any 
advance.  Among  weekly  papers  the  Saturday  Review, 
started  on  a  new  course  by  Douglas  Cook  in  1855,  had  won 
the  first  place  in  authority  and  popular  favour ;  for  no 
other  journal  could  boast  of  an  array  of  contributors  such 
as  Abraham  Hayward  and  Lord  Robert  Cecil,  Henry  Maine 
and  Fitzjames  Stephen,  John  Morley  and  Vernon  Harcourt. 
Next  to  the  Saturday  stood  the  Spectator,  which,  on  the 

^  "  Though  I  am  vain  enough  to  think  I  had  perhaps  the  best  grip  of 
economic  principles,  I  should  not  have  been  a  good  Professor  and  the 
fittest  man  was  chosen,"  wrote  Courtney  to  Roby  in  191 1,  after  reading 
the  life  of  Alexander  Macmillan. 

62  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

death  of  its  owner  and  editor,  Rintoul,  in  1858,  had  passed 
into  the  hands  of  Meredith  Townsend,  who  was  speedily 
joined  by  Richard  Holt  Hutton.  The  Examiner,  founded 
by  Leigh  Hunt  and  edited  for  many  years  with  rare  abihty 
by  Albany  Fonblanque,  failed  to  maintain  its  position 
under  John  Forster,  but  still  retained  a  certain  influence. 
To  seciure  the  entree  into  any  of  these  organs  was  no  easy 
task  for  an  unknown  writer,  and  Courtney's  debut  was 
made  in  a  far  less  exalted  quarter.  In  i860  the  London 
Review,  a  threepenny  weekly,  was  founded  by  Charles 
Mackay,  a  writer  of  weU-known  songs  and  for  some  years 
editor  of  the  Illustrated  London  News.  His  ambition  was 
to  rival  the  Saturday  by  avoiding  its  censorious  tone  ;  and 
the  opening  number,  published  on  July  7,  defined  "  Our 
Principles  and  PoUtics."  "To  be  honest  in  politics  and 
generous  and  appreciative  in  criticism  shall  be  the  rule. 
It  win  not  always  be  sitting  in  judgment,  but  will  originate 
as  well  as  criticise  and  wiU  afford  to  young  and  rising 
genius  an  arena  in  which  its  first  distinctions  may  be 
achieved.  The  unknown  writer  shall  be  as  cordially 
received  as  a  man  who  has  made  himself  famous,  provided 
that  he  has  something  good  to  say  and  knows  how  to 
say  it." 

The  birth  of  the  journal  was  celebrated  at  a  sumptuous 
dinner  at  the  Reform  Club,  the  menu  of  which  was  re 
produced  many  years  later  with  naive  satisfaction  in  the 
host's  autobiography.  The  high  spirits  of  the  company 
were  somewhat  damped  by  Monckton  Milnes,  who,  in 
proposing  the  health  of  the  host  and  prosperity  to  the  new 
venture,  expressed  his  doubts  whether  it  could  succeed 
unless  more  wit  and  fun  were  infused  into  it.  Mackay 
tartly  replied  that  it  was  not  intended  to  compete  with 
Punch,  and  that  the  one  dull  article  that  had  so  far  appeared 
was  from  the  pen  of  his  candid  critic.  Despite  its  somewhat 
ponderous  qualities  the  Review  grew  steadily  in  pubhc 
favour,  but  too  slowly  for  the  partners  who  had  found  the 
money.  "  After  six  months  of  worry  and  discomfort," 
wrote  Mackay  long  after  in  the  bitterness  of  his  heart,  "  I 
found  I  had  made  a  mistake,  and  resigned  my  editorial 


sceptre  to  an  unliterary  autocrat  who  ruled  by  right  of  his 
banking  account,  and  was  in  a  position  to  purchase  anony- 
mous opinion  at  the  small  market  prices  then  current 
cimong  the  tyros  of  the  press."  ^  Mackay's  departure  made 
little  difference  in  the  character  of  the  Review,  which 
continued  to  supply  articles  of  average  merit.  Lacking  the 
brilliant  audacity  of  the  Saturday,  it  failed  to  seciure  a  lead- 
ing place  in  the  world  of  journalism,  and  its  career  came  to 
an  end  in  1869  ;  but  it  provided  a  welcome  training-ground 
for  a  good  many  young  writers  who  had  stiU  to  make  their 

During  1862  and  1863  Courtney  frequently  contributed 
articles  and  reviews,  chiefly  relating  to  the  literature  and 
problems  of  pohtical  economy.     Among  the  tasks  which 
gave  their  author  the  greatest  pleasure  was  a  long  notice 
of  Caimes's  masterly  treatise  on  The  Slave  Power,  in  which 
he  not  only  paid  a  generous  tribute  to  his  Irish  friend,  but 
gave  expression  to  his  ardent  championship  of  the  cause  of 
the  North.     The  common  ignorance  of  America  before  the 
war,  he  begins,  was  astonishing,  and  even  now  the  public 
was  only  beginning  to  wake  up.     Mill  had  explained  the 
importance  of  the  conflict^  "  and  the  present  work,  which 
may  be  said  to  appear  under  Mr.  MiU's  auspices,  may  serve 
to  bring  over  those  who  remained  uncertain."     The  signifi- 
cance of  the  voliune  lay  in  the  fact  that  it  provided  the  key 
to  the  great  drama  that  was  being  unfolded  beyond  the 
Atlantic,  which  both  in  intrinsic  importance  and  in  mere 
size   surpassed   any  event   since   the   French   Revolution. 
Earl  RusseU  had  declared  that  the  North  was  fighting  for 
empire,  the  South  for  independence ;   but  this  was  to  miss 
the  real  cause  of  the  struggle.     It  was  the  merit  of  Caimes 
to  trace  the  conflict  to  its  root  in  the  essential  opposition 
between  the  economic  character  of  a   Slave  State  and  a 
Free  State.     The  Southerners  were  cut  for  much  more  than 
independence.     "  They  wish  to  acquire  new  lands  to  be 
worked  by  their  slaves,  and  by  the  creation  of  Slave  States 
to  preserve  their  power  in  the  Senate.     It  seems  impos- 
sible to  regret  the  present  war.     Deplorable   as   are  its 

^  Charles  Mackay,  Through  the  Long  Day,  ii.  201-12. 

64  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

consequences  it  has  already  averted  greater  evils.  In 
the  interest  of  ci\dIisation  Englishmen  cannot  but  wish 
the  humbling  of  the  Southern  power,  the  character  and 
design  of  which  Professor  Caimes  has  so  ably  revealed  to 

From  Professor  Caimes 

June  20,  1862. — Thanks  for  your  very  friendly  and  flattering 
notice  of  my  book  in  the  London  Review.  You  have  put  in  a 
very  forcible  way  some  of  the  principal  points  of  my  argument ; 
and  your  notice  will  prove  very  useful.  The  present  is  the 
first  number  I  have  seen.  I  had  understood  that  it  was  sup- 
ported by  seceders  from  the  Saturday  Review.  If  it  should 
succeed  in  taking  its  place  in  public  estimation  I,  for  one,  should 
exceedingly  rejoice,  the  influence  of  the  latter  organ  having 
been  for  some  time  past  purely  mischievous.  The  standard  of 
writing  in  the  number  you  sent  me  strikes  me  as  very  high. 

From  this  time  forward  the  Galway  Professor  kept  his 
eye  on  the  London  Review,  and  frequently  wrote  to  express 
his  admiration  or  dishke  of  its  contents. 

From  Professor  Caimes 

March  15,  1863. — I  see  the  London  Review  pretty  frequently, 
and  had  noticed  the  discordant  elements  to  which  you  refer. 
In  the  number  of  yesterday  I  see  there  is  an  article  on  America 
of  a  strongly  Southern  cast — doubtless  by  Mr.  Greg.  Was  it 
not  your  hand  which  was  at  work  some  months  ago  in  some 
articles  on  rent  ? 

April  7,  1863. — It  was  surely  you  who  were  at  work  on 
Macleod  in  the  London  Review  of  Saturday.  I  have  not  read 
anything  for  a  long  time  in  the  way  of  criticism  that  has  so 
thoroughly  satisfied  me.  I  have  also  read  with  great  interest, 
and  in  the  main  concurrence,  your  articles  on  £conomistes 
Modemes.  I  do  think  you  greatly  underrate  Mill  and  overrate 
Bastiat  as  much.  Your  review,  however,  has  had  the  effect 
of  sending  me  to  his  works. 

Though  Courtney  speciaHsed  rather  in  finance  and 
political  economy  than  in  foreign  poHtics,  the  tremendous 


drama  in  America  which  opened  in  1861  claimed  his  atten- 
tion from  the  first.  He  never  doubted  for  a  moment  that 
the  cause  of  the  North  was  the  cause  of  righteousness,  and 
he  did  his  best  to  counterwork  the  Southern  sympathies 
openly  and  often  truculently  expressed  by  the  governing 
classes  in  England.  His  debut  as  a  political  adviser  to  his 
fellow-countrymen  revealed  him  in  the  role  which  he  con- 
tinued to  play  with  increasing  authority  for  nearly  sixty 
years.  The  seizure  of  the  Southern  envoys  on  board  the 
Trent  threw  Great  Britain  into  a  paroxysm  of  indignation, 
and,  but  for  the  intervention  of  the  Queen  and  the  Prince 
Consort,  aided  by  the  fact  that  London  and  Washington 
were  unconnected  by  telegraph,  would  probably  have 
hurled  two  countries  into  war.  The  young  barrister's 
closely  reasoned  letter  to  the  Daily  News  was  the  first  of 
many  appeals  to  his  fellow-countrymen  to  keep  their  heads 
in  a  grave  crisis. 

The  American  Difficulty 

To  the  Editor  of  the  Daily  News. 

SiR-*-Readers  of  the  daily  papers  must  confess  that  the  public 
indignation  is  spent  on  a  wrong  issue.  Speakers  at  the  meetings 
throughout  the  country  declaim,  amidst  vehement  cheering, 
against  the  insult  offered  to  our  flag  by  searching  a  vessel  that 
bears  it,  against  the  violation  of  the  protection  that  flag  warrants, 
by  taking  away  persons  from  its  shelter.  Both  speakers  and 
cheerers  would  think  the  insult  deepened  and  the  violation 
more  outrageous  had  Commodore  Wilkes  insisted  on  conducting 
the  Trent  and  aU  on  board  into  Boston  Harbour.  Yet  it  is 
the  fact  that  had  Commodore  Wilkes  done  this  we  should  have 
had  no  ground  of  complaint.  It  is  indeed  known  that  the 
remonstrance  of  our  government  is  directed  against  the  manner 
in  which  the  seizure  has  been  effected ;  but  this  is  regarded  by 
the  public  as  a  lawyer-like  subtlety  in  taking  one,  and  that  a 
minor  one,  out  of  many  grounds  of  complaint,  because  it  is 
clear  and  definite,  instead  of  being  as  it  is,  the  taking  of  the  one 
single  and  sole  ground  on  which  we  can  raise  an  objection.  I 
cannot  but  think  that  if  the  true  nature  of  the  difference  between 
us  and  the  Federal  government  were  known,  the  public  excite- 
ment would  very  much  abate,  and  what  I  think  we  must  all 
desire,  a  peaceable  solution  of  the  difficulty,  would  be  rendered 


66  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

possible.  I  hope  therefore  you  will  find  it  convenient  to  insert 
a  short  argument  to  show  that  Commodore  Wilkes  would  have 
been  justified  by  international  law  in  taking  possession  of  the 
Trent  and  conducting  her  to  a  prize  court  of  the  Federal  States. 

(A  long  technical  discussion  follows.) 

In  any  case  it  is  our  duty,  quietly  but  determinedly,  to  wait 
till  we  learn  whether  the  prize  courts  of  the  United  States  can 
enter  upon  and  decide  the  question  of  the  legality  of  the  capture, 
and  if  they  can  we  must  await  their  decision.  Until  that  is 
pronounced  the  Northern  States  are  at  Hberty  to  assume  the 
best  possible  case  in  their  favour.  It  may  appear  that  Messrs. 
Mason  and  Slidell  were  furnished  with  money  or  with  letters  of 
credit  on  speculative  Liverpool  merchants  who  have  purchased 
the  cotton  locked  up  in  the  South,  and  that  they  also  bore  in- 
structions to  purchase  warHke  stores  or  even  ships  of  war  (there 
are  American  sailors  enough  in  our  ports)  with  which  to  harass 
the  navy,  mercantile  or  otherwise,  of  the  North,  My  letter  has 
grown  to  a  formidable  size,  but  I  hope  the  importance  of  the 
subject  will  serve  as  an  excuse. — I  am,  etc.  L.  H.  C. 

Lincoln's  Inn, 
December  ii,  1861. 

In  reprinting  his  weighty  and  temperate  protest  half  a 
century  later,  ^  its  author  called  attention  to  a  letter  from 
Palmerston  to  Delane  confirming  its  argument.  "  Much  to 
my  regret,"  wrote  the  Prime  Minister  after  a  Cabinet 
Committee  attended  by  the  Law  Officers,  "  it  appeared 
that  according  to  the  principles  of  international  law,  laid 
down  in  our  Courts  by  Lord  Stowell  and  practised  and 
enforced  by  us,  a  belligerent  has  a  right  to  stop  and  search 
any  neutral,  not  being  a  ship  of  war,  and  being  found  on 
the  high  seas,  and  being  suspected  of  carrying  the  enemies' 
despatches,  and  that  consequently  this  American  cruiser 
might  by  our  own  principles  of  international  law  stop  the 
West  Indian  packet,  search  her,  and  if  the  Southern  men 
and  their  despatches  and  credentials  were  found  on  board, 
either  take  them  out  or  seize  the  packet  and  take  her  back 
to  New  York  for  trial."  ^  Though  the  law  thus  clearly  set 
forth  in  November  was  strictly  observed  a  week  or  two 

^  As  an  Appendix  to  Peace  or  War,  1910. 
*  Dasent,  Life  of  Delane,  ii.  36. 


later  in  the  stoppage  of  the  Trent,  Palmerston  denounced 
the  act  in  violent  terms  and  was  rapturously  applauded  by 
the  Times  and  most  of  the  other  organs  of  public  opinion. 

At  the  same  time  that  his  work  for  the  London  Review 
was  unconsciously  fitting  him  for  Printing  House  Square, 
Courtney  was  also  preparing  himself  for  the  claims  of  public 
life.  He  had  been  much  too  busy  at  Cambridge  to  spare 
time  for  the  Union  debates,  and  his  tastes  in  those  years 
were  rather  literary  and  artistic  than  political ;  but  on 
settling  in  London  his  interest  in  affairs  had  developed 
rapidly.  On  January  30,  1861,  he  was  elected  a  member  of 
the  newly  formed  Hardwicke  Society,  a  weekly  debating 
circle  which  has  supplied  a  training  to  generations  of  clever 
young  lawyers.^  On  the  same  day  Coleridge,  afterwards 
Lord  Chief  Justice,  Rigby,  afterwards  Lord  Justice,  and 
Gully,  afterwards  Speaker,  were  enrolled.  He  attended 
his  first  meeting  in  February,  when  a  motion  for  the  reduc- 
tion of  naval  and  military  expenditure  was  lost.  His 
maiden  speech  was  delivered  on  March  13,  when  he  un- 
successfully opposed  the  motion,  "  That  no  attempt  should 
be  made  to  readjust  the  income-tax  with  the  view  of  lighten- 
ing its  pressure  on  terminable  and  precarious  incomes." 
It  was  the  subject  which  he  had  made  his  own  in  his 
pamphlet  on  Direct  Taxation,  and  among  the  visitors  was 
Hubbard,  who  had  recently  carried  his  motion  for  a  Select 
Committee  on  the  inequalities  of  the  income-tax.  The 
young  orator  was  not  altogether  satisfied  with  his  maiden 

From  his  Father 

March  23,  1861. — I  trust  your  next  attempt  at  the  Hardwicke 
will  be  more  satisfactory  than  the  first  movement.  Like  every- 
thing else  I  believe  there  must  be  a  course  of  training  for  public 
speaking,  however  collected  you  may  be. 

A  week  or  two  later  he  opposed  compulsory  elementary 
education,  and  on  May  22  he  for  the  first  time  opened  a 

^  I  am  indebted  for  the  following  details  to  the  kindness  oi  Mr.  William 
Latey,  who  is  engaged  on  a  history  of  the  Hardwicke  Society. 

68  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap,  iv 

debate,  condemning  the  remissions  of  taxation  in  the 
current  Budget  as  excessive  in  amount  and  ill  selected.  In 
February  1862  he  proposed  the  emancipation  of  the  self- 
governing  colonies,  and  in  November  he  carried  a  motion 
against  the  recognition  of  the  South  in  the  American  civil 
war.  He  was  now  one  of  the  most  frequent  contributors 
to  debate,  both  on  legal  and  political  topics.  He  defended 
the  cession  of  the  Ionian  Isles  to  Greece,  condemned  the 
Government's  loan  of  officers  to  China,  opposed  a  motion 
by  Frederic  Harrison  urging  the  Western  Powers  to  prevent 
Russian  aggression  against  Poland,  and  argued  against  the 
neglect  of  Parhamentary  Reform.  On  joining  the  staff  of 
the  Times  in  1864  he  virtually  ceased  to  attend  ;  but  he  was 
present  at  the  annual  dinner  in  1865.  His  last  appearance 
was  in  May  1866,  when  he  introduced,  but  failed  to  carry 
a  motion  that  the  Government  Reform  scheme  was 

"  It  was  the  best  debating  society  I  have  ever  known," 
writes  Sir  Edward  Clarke  in  his  Autobiography.^  "  It 
used  to  meet  in  a  back  room  at  Dick's  Coffee  House,  and 
the  attendance  was  then  only  from  fifteen  to  twenty.  But 
among  the  regular  attendants  and  frequent  speakers  were 
some  notable  men.  Leonard  Courtney,  Frederic  Harrison, 
Montague  Cookson,  and  Vernon  and  Godfrey  Lushington 
were  very  often  there,  and  Giffard  and  HerscheU  and  Charles 
RusseU  came  occasionally.  I  was  the  Honorary  Secretary 
1865-68  and  then  President  for  three  years  ;  and  I  have 
never  ceased  to  try  to  persuade  students  and  young  bar- 
risters not  to  neglect  the  advantages  which  such  a  society 
offers."  Sir  Edward  recoUects  Courtney  as  a  "  very  magis- 
terial "  speaker,  slow  in  deUvery  and  without  pretensions 
to  briUiance,  but  extremely  weU  informed  and  powerful  in 

*  Story  of  My  Life,  p.  61. 
*  Convergation  with  the  author,  September  191 8. 



In  the  course  of  a  letter  written  in  September  1863  Courtney 
casually  records  that  "  Mr.  G.  W.  Dasent  of  the  Times  "  had 
left  a  card  at  his  chambers  while  he  was  away.  He 
had  already  offered  a  number  of  reviews,  all  of  which  had 
been  returned  ;  but  his  pertinacity  was  ultimately  rewarded. 
On  January  26,  1864,  a  long  and  discriminating  review  of 
The  Water-Babies  appeared,  for  which  in  due  course  he 
received  a  cheque  for  ten  guineas.^  He  foretold  that  the 
story  would  outlive  many  generations  of  ordinary  gift- 
books,  and  that  Kingsley's  babies  would  remain  young  to 
gambol  with  children  yet  unborn  ;  but  he  was  well  aware 
of  the  author's  faults.  "  There  is  in  his  mind  a  certain 
one-sidedness,  we  might  almost  call  it  narrowness,  closely 
allied  with  his  impetuous  vigour.  His  keen  sense  of  beauty 
and  his  hearty  manhood  have  saved  him  from  becoming  a 
dangerous  fanatic  ;  but  in  The  Water-Babies  enough  of  the 
narrowness  remains  to  prevent  us  from  ranking  him  among 
the  great  humorists  of  literature.  About  Mr.  Kingsley 
there  linger  some  of  the  vehement  partialities  of  youth." 
A  week  later  followed  a  scholarly  notice  of  The  Gladiators, 
showing  a  wide  acquaintance  with  historical  novels.  In 
March  he  contributed  a  leading  article  on  the  Sewing 
Machine,  a  four-column  review  of  Isaac  Taylor's  Words 
and  Places,  filled  with  curious  learning  in  the  region  of 
local  history,  and  a  technical  discussion  of  the  sugar  duties 

^  I  am  greatly  indebted  to  the  Times  for  permitting  me  to  refer  to  the 
authorship  of  Courtney's  articles  and  to  record  the  remuneration. 


70  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

in  the  form  of  a  letter  from  "  A  Freetrader."  On  April  19 
he  wrote  his  first  political  leader  on  a  debate  on  the  sugar 
duties.  These  unaccustomed  triumphs  were  entered  in  an 
account-book  which  was  to  record  the  date,  subject  and 
remuneration  of  the  3000  articles  contributed  to  the  Times 
during  the  next  sixteen  years.  After  six  years  of  struggle 
and  disappointment  in  London  the  turning-point  had  come 
at  last.  Henceforth  he  occupied  a  position  in  the  world 
not  unworthy  of  his  abiUties,  and  earned  a  salary  which 
enabled  him  to  hve  in  modest  comfort,  to  indulge  his  passion 
for  foreign  travel,  and  to  offer  more  substantial  assistance 
towards  the  education  of  his  brothers  and  sisters. 

Professor  Caimes  wrote  to  congratulate  the  critic  on  his 
"  very  clever  but  too  indulgent  "  review  of  Kings]  ey ;  but 
the  most  welcome  letter  came  as  usual  from  Penzance. 

From  Dr.  Willan 

March  30,  1864. — I  have  just  read  your  most  charming 
review  of  Words  and  Places,  and  if  I  could  be  sure  the  work 
is  as  interesting  as  the  review  of  it  I  should  order  it  for  our 
library.  I  should  long  ago  have  acknowledged  your  attention 
in  sending  me  your  article  on  The  Water-Babies.  Now  I 
have  to  congratulate  you  on  your  first  "  Leader,"  and  I  know 
you  will  give  me  credit  for  feeling  an  honest  pride  in  this  and 
in  all  your  successes.  I  saw  your  review  of  The  Gladiators 
in  our  Evening  Mail.  The  subject  was  more  to  my  taste  than 
that  of  The  Water-Babies ;  but  the  review  of  both  was 
exhaustive.  It  is  a  puzzle  to  me  how  you  can  say  so  much  in 
so  small  a  space. 

When  Courtney  joined  the  staff  of  the  Times  the  famous 
journal  was  at  the  zenith  of  its  career. ^  Its  circulation  was 
about  60,000,  and  it  had  no  serious  competitor.  The  press 
was  still  superior  to  the  platform,  and  the  press  was  the 
Times.  The  author  of  its  greatness  was  Barnes,  who  could 
be  seen  riding  down  Parhament  Street  with  a  duke  walking 
on  each  side,  and  who  was  hailed  by  Lyndhurst  in  1834  ^^ 
"  the  most  powerful  man  in  the  country,"     He  had  been 

^  See  Sir  Edward  Cook,  Delane  of  the  Times. 


ably  seconded  by  Edward  Sterling,  the  chief  of  his  leader- 
writers,  Carlyle's  "  Thunderer,"  and  the  father  of  Carlyle's 
gentle  and  gifted  friend.  When  Delane  succeeded  Barnes 
in  1841  at  the  age  of  twenty-four  it  seemed  impossible  that 
the  young  man  who  had  only  recently  left  Oxford  should 
maintain  the  paper  at  the  giddy  eminence  to  which  it  had 
been  raised.  But  doubts  quickly  melted  as  the  staff  came 
to  realise  the  firmness  of  purpose  and  the  proud  independence 
of  their  new  master.  Though  well  aware  of  his  powers  and 
rejoicing  in  his  immense  responsibiUty  the  young  editor  had 
the  wisdom  to  take  lessons  from  Lord  Aberdeen,  who 
became  Peel's  Foreign  Minister  in  the  same  year.  But 
Aberdeen  was  his  only  political  mentor ;  for  he  quickly 
outgrew  the  need  of  tutelage,  and  GranviUe  and  Palmerston 
were  comrades,  not  counsellors.  Possessing  friends  in 
both  the  Whig  and  the  Tory  camp  he  heard  of  events,  plans 
and  decisions  before  they  were  known  to  other  editors,  and 
he  often  surprised  the  world  by  the  publication  of  momentous 
news  obtained  as  if  by  thought-reading  or  magic.  His 
first  great  coup  was  the  announcement  of  Peel's  fateful 
decision  to  repeal  the  Corn  Laws  ;  but  it  was  the  Crimean 
War  which  made  him  an  outstanding  national  figure  and 
one  of  the  acknowledged  directors  of  the  policy  of  the 
country.  His  decision  to  publish  the  despatches  of  William 
Howard  Russell  overthrew  the  Aberdeen  Ministry,  and  it 
was  his  commanding  voice  that  simimoned  Palmerston  to 
the  helm.  It  was  at  this  moment  that  Lord  John  Russell, 
the  only  prominent  statesman  who  refused  to  bum  incense 
at  his  shrine,  remarked  to  GranviUe,  "  Your  friend  Mr. 
Delane  seems  to  be  drunk  with  insolence  and  vanity." 
"  What  the  Tsar  is  in  Russia  or  the  mob  in  America,"  wrote 
Anthony  Trollope  in  1855,  "  the  Jupiter  is  in  England."  ^ 
Though  by  temperament  a  Palmerstonian  Whig  he  was 
free  from  all  poUtical  ties,  and  for  a  generation  he  ad- 
monished the  Crown  and  its  servants  as  a  schoolmaster 
rebukes  and  encourages  the  members  of  his  class.  Honour- 
able, courageous  and  patriotic,  rarely  looking  ahead  and 
blissfully   ignorant   of   the   needs   and   aspirations   of   the 

^  In  The  Warden. 

72  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

working  classes,  he  was  as  perfect  a  representative  of  mid- 
Victorian  England  as  Palmerston  himself.  This  conformity 
to  type  was  the  main  source  of  his  power  ;  and,  in  moments 
of  national  or  party,  crisis  crowned  heads,  ministers  and 
legislators  waited  with  bated  breath  for  the  voice  of  the 

A  vivid  picture  of  the  daily  life  of  Delane  has  been 
drawn  by  Dean  Wace,  one  of  the  two  survivors  of  his 
brilliant  staff.  ^  "  He  rarely  left  the  ofhce  in  Printing 
House  Square  before  five  o'clock  in  the  morning,  and 
walked  to  his  small  house  in  Serjeants'  Inn,  a  httle  square 
off  Fleet  Street,  about  a  quarter  of  a  mile  distant.  When 
he  rose  he  would  spend  three  or  four  hours  in  arranging  the 
work  of  the  day,  writing  and  answering  letters  ;  and  some- 
times, especially  in  my  years  of  apprenticeship,  I  would 
receive  a  letter  from  him  about  six  o'clock,  giving  me  my 
subject  and  my  cue  for  the  work  of  the  evening.  About 
the  middle  of  the  afternoon  his  horse  was  brought  to  him, 
and,  followed  by  his  groom,  he  rode  slowly  towards  the 
West  End.  He  said  to  me  once  that  if  he  started  to  walk 
from  Fleet  Street  along  the  Strand  to  Pall  Mall  or  West- 
minster he  would  never  get  there,  as  so  many  people  would 
buttonhole  him.  But  on  his  horse,  which  he  rode  slowly, 
he  could  greet  them  and  go  on.  When  the  Houses  of 
Parhament  were  in  session  he  would  always  ride  down  to 
them,  stroll  into  the  House  of  Commons  or  the  House  of 
Lords  as  he  pleased,  stand  under  the  gallery,  and  acquaint 
himself  with  the  parliamentary  situation  of  the  day.  Peers 
or  members  who  were  concerned  in  the  current  business 
would  speak  to  him,  and  thus  he  was  always  in  touch  with 
the  prevalent  feeUng  and  tendency  in  both  Houses.  Thence 
he  would  ride  on  to  the  Athenaeum  or  the  Reform  Club, 
and  there  he  was  sure  to  meet  some  one  interested  in  the 
poHtical  or  scientific  or  legal  question  of  the  hour ;  or  else 
he  would  ride  on  to  Lady  Palmerston's  house  in  Piccadilly, 
or  to  Baroness  Lionel  de  Rothschild's,  or  some  other  great 
leader  of  political  or  social  Hfe,  and  carry  away  at  least  as 
much  suggestion  or  information  as  he  brought.     In  the 

^  John  Thaddeus  Delane,  1908. 


evening  the  days  must  have  been  rare  when  he  was  not,  or 
could  not  have  been,  dining  in  some  society  which  brought 
him  once  more  into  contact  with  the  current  interests  and 
Mving  thoughts  of  the  hour." 

Two  more  snapshots  help  us  to  visuahse  the  unique 
position  which  the  Editor  of  the  Times  occupied  in  the 
social  and  poHtical  Ufe  of  London,  the  first  by  a  man  about 
town,  the  second  by  a  young  Tory  aristocrat.  "  It  was  a 
rare  experience,"  writes  Alexander  Shand,  "  to  have  his 
arm  up  St.  James's  Street  in  the  session  when  the  stream 
was  setting  of  a  summer  afternoon  towards  the  House,  and 
to  hsten  to  his  amusing  commentary  of  anecdote  and 
reminiscence,  interspersed  with  incisive  sketches  of  char- 
acter and  careers  suggested  by  passing  personahties."  ^ 
"  Delane's  entrance  into  the  lobby  was  a  sight  worth  witness- 
ing," records  Lord  George  Hamilton.  "  No  pope  or  autocrat 
could  have  shown  a  more  lofty  condescension  to  his  sub- 
ordinates than  he  exhibited  to  the  habitues  of  the  lobby, 
and  what  annoyed  me  was  not  so  much  his  assumption  of 
superiority  but  the  grovelling  sycophancy  with  which  it 
was  accepted.  He  contrived  always  to  have  a  tame  Cabinet 
Minister  in  his  pocket,  and  he  was  terribly  toadied  by  a 
certain  section  of  society  and  particularly  by  the  leading 
Whig  ladies  of  the  period,"  ^ 

The  omnipotent  editor  was  ably  supported  by  his  staff. 
Fully  trusted  by  John  Walter,  the  proprietor,  he  was 
equally  fortunate  in  the  assistant  editor,  Dasent,  his  brother- 
in-law  and  attached  friend,  who  from  1845  to  1870  assumed 
command  when  the  chief  was  away.  The  three  men  worked 
in  perfect  harmony  and  offered  an  unbroken  front  to  any 
attempt  on  the  part  of  the  staff  to  dictate  the  policy  of  the 
paper.  Thus  when  in  1855  Henry  Reeve  refused  to  obey 
Dasent  while  the  editor  was  enjoying  his  holiday  abroad 
he  was  promptly  dismissed  by  Walter,  though  he  had  been 
the  most  competent  leader-writer  on  foreign  poUcy  for 
fifteen  years.  Delane's  subordinates,  however,  were  far  too 
able  to  be  merely  echoes  of  their  master's  voice.     Russell 

^  Days  of  the  Past,  p.  197. 
*  Parliamentary  Reminiscences,  pp.  24-28. 

74  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

had  joined  the  staff  in  1842  and  leapt  into  fame  during  the 
Crimean  War.  Robert  Lowe  wrote  leaders  from  185 1  to 
1868,  without  allowing  his  promotion  to  the  Treasury 
Bench  to  interrupt  the  connection.  Among  other  members 
of  the  editorial  staff  were  Thomas  Mozley,  William  Stebbing, 
George  Brodrick  and  Antonio  Gallenga. 

In  the  year  before  Courtney  crossed  the  threshold  of 
Printing  House  Square  there  occurred  the  celebrated  duel 
between  Cobden  and  Delane,  in  which  the  great  editor 
lashed  out  somewhat  viciously  at  the  mild  radicaUsm  of  the 
Manchester  school,  Courtney's  sympathies  were  with  the 
latter ;  but  he  shared  the  general  impression  that  neither 
of  the  antagonists  had  enhanced  his  reputation. 

From  Professor  Cairnes 

December  22,  1863. — I  agree  with  you  that  Cobden  had  a 
good  case  and  has  played  it  with  but  indifferent  skill ;  nor  has 
his  position  been  improved  by  his  later  strokes  of  play.  At  the 
same  time  I  have  no  words  to  express  my  disgust  at  Delane's 
conduct  throughout.  Perhaps  too  it  will  be  found  that  that 
other  question  of  "  dividing  the  lands  of  the  rich  among  the 
poor" — as  I  would  express  it,  of  factlitating  the  acquisition  of 
land  by  the  cultivators — ^may  survive  the  labouring  of  the 

It  was  a  great  satisfaction  to  Cairnes  to  discover  a  httle 
later  that  his  own  somewhat  advanced  opinions  were  shared 
by  Comlney. 

From  Professor  Cairnes 

April  6,  1866. — I  am  delighted  to  find  that  your  opinions 
on  the  land  question  are  "  revolutionary  "  and  "  socialistic." 
Somehow  I  fancied  that  on  this  point  you  were  rather  strictly 
orthodox,  and  have  even  felt  afraid  sometimes  to  touch  on  the 
subject  with  you  lest  I  should  discover  a  gulf  between  us  in  a 
matter  on  which  I  am  inclined  to  feel  rather  strongly.  But  I 
shaU  know  better  in  future. 

The  Professor's  bitter  disKke  of  Delane's  poHcy  and 
methods  tempered  his  satisfaction  at  his  friend's  appoint- 


From  Professor  Cairnes 

July  17,  1864. — I  am  sincerely  glad  to  hear  you  are  so  active 
in  the  Times,  though  I  could  have  wished  that  your  pen  had 
been  enlisted  on  the  other  side. 

November  28,  1864. — Mr.  Delane,  I  fancy,  would  place  the 
"  golden  age  " — ^if  the  Union  were  only  once  split  in  two  and 
reform  aspirations  stifled — somewhere  in  this  present  year  of 

Mr.  Stebbing,  his  friend  and  colleague,  who  succeeded 
Dasent  as  Assistant  Editor  in  1870,  has  kindly  contributed 
a  survey  of  Courtney's  connection  with  Printing  House 
Square  : 

"To  be  a  leader-writer  on  the  Times  has  always  been 
esteemed  a  distinction  from  the  days  of  Edward  Sterhng, 
the  original  Thunderer,  In  Courtney's  time  a  mystery  of 
no  very  dark  kind  encircled  the  occupation.  A  man  scarcely 
could  disappear  more  or  less  regularly  from  a  party  at  a 
friend's  house  shortly  before  ten  o'clock  at  night  without 
remark.  Everybody  knew  the  cause,  though  it  was  the 
fashion  not  to  give  it  a  name.  The  fact  could  not  be  hidden 
from  Courtney's  circle,  now  wide,  at  Lincoln's  Inn,  and  it 
spread — an  open  secret.  Within  Printing  House  Square, 
where  there  were  seniors  of  his  on  the  staff,  he  soon  made 
his  mark.  Particular  lines  in  the  paper's  policy,  fighting 
lines,  were  reserved  for  him.  An  editor  likes  to  believe 
any  in  his  troop  ready  on  occasion  to  condescend  to  trifles. 
Courtney  could,  when  the  humour  was  on  him.  Thus,  I 
remember,  he  volunteered  for  a  romantic  defence  of  the 
Bargee  people  against  the  reduction  of  its  Bedouins  of 
inland  waters  within  too  strict  educational  discipline.  It 
was  very  pleasant  pleading.  The  editorial  authority  for 
its  own  part  was  too  sagacious  often  to  waste  a  man-at- 
arms  of  this  extraordinary  worth  upon  letting  off  fire- 

"  Delane  among  his  many  great  editorial  gifts  had  a 
wonderful  instinct  and  experience  in  foreign  politics.  He 
expected  writers  on  them  to  reflect  with  fair  closeness  his 
spirit.     He  would  consider,   but  might  or  might   not   be 

76  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

moved  to  accept,  deviations.  In  domestic  legislation,  for 
which  he  cared  less,  he  was  far  from  being  dictatorial. 
Courtney,  he  recognised,  had  studied  and  thought  on  such 
questions,  and  was  to  be  edited  not  repressed.  After  as 
well  as  before  I  joined  the  inner  circle  of  the  paper,  Courtney 
and  I  never  discussed  agreements  or  disagreements  of  the 
sort.  I  am  certain  he  had  no  reason  to  be  dissatisfied. 
Morahsts  may  dilate  with  satisfaction  on  the  short  span  of 
joumahstic  vitahty.  It  would  be  well  for  budding  statesmen 
if  they  took  a  good  long  course  of  Courtney's  easily  dis- 
covered leaders  on  any  much-debated  legislative  reform. 
The  trenchant,  massive  logic,  the  exposure  of  ignorance, 
the  downright  deahng  with  irrelevance  !  He  did  not  affect 
or  care  to  be  a  styhst.  Style  itself  in  its  place  he  appreciated. 
When  words  were  to  be  followed  by  acts  he  never  paused 
for  one  to  turn  a  sentence.  Sound,  sturdy  English  was 
enough  for  him.  He  might  be  dogmatic  ;  he  was  never 
obscure,  never  professorial,  never  from  beginning  to  end 
of  an  article  lost  sight  of  its  object.  Parliamentary  advo- 
cates of  a  position  attacked  by  him  felt  obliged  to  reply  to 
an  argument  of  his  in  the  Times,  as  if  it  had  been  urged 
from  the  opposite  side  of  the  House.  On  one  memorable 
question,  that  of  the  Minority  Vote,  it  will  scarcely  be 
disputed  that  support  by  him  in  the  Times  was  mainly 
answerable  for  its  acceptance.  He  had  a  right  to  be  satis- 
fied ;  I  never  knew  him  to  boast  of  the  achievement.  The 
single  exception  to  the  rule  of  which  I  am  aware  has  been 
recorded  by  himself. 

"  Personally,  a  few  weeks  before  his  death,  he  recalled 
by  a  letter  in  the  Times  a  leader  of  his  which  protested 
against  the  German  annexation  of  Alsace-Lorraine.  French 
and  German  diplomacy  before  the  war  had  been  ahke 
guilty  of  shameless  plotting  against  weaker  innocent  states. 
Great  Britain  had  no  cause  to  approve  of  either  Government. 
She  had  the  happiness  through  her  streak  of  silver  sea  to  be 
able  to  stand  neutral  and  exercised  the  right.  The  Times 
had  not  from  the  first  doubted  as  to  the  military  result. 
Without  the  least  partisanship  it  chronicled  the  stages. 
Consideration  was  required  in  reminding  exultant  victors 


of  the  perilous  consequences  to  their  tranquillity  of  rapacity. 
I  rejoice  in  Courtney's  powerful  warning  in  the  name  of  the 
Times  against  a  violence  apparent  even  to  Bismarck.  Alas 
for  the  world,  alas  for  Germany,  that  militarism  was  supreme 
and  would  not  listen  to  friendly,  even  to  native  counsels 
of  moderation  ! 

"  An  ordinary  leading  article  of  the  old-fashioned  length 
means  a  night's  hard  brain-work  and  pen-work  of  some 
three  hours.  Trained  intelligence  in  that  time  will  yield 
good  thought.  Courtney  after  early  days  could  anticipate 
his  subject,  and  grudged  no  labour  on  preparation.  If  it. 
were  a  Bill,  he  had  dissected,  pondered  the  text  and  any 
preliminary  discussion.  Frequently  he  managed  to  hear 
a  debate  from  the  Strangers'  Gallery  in  the  Commons,  or 
in  the  ventilating  vault  beneath  the  House.  Eventually  he 
received  from  the  Speaker  the  privilege  of  entry  within  the 
House  at  discretion.  The  act  of  courtesy  was  for  himself 
a  foretaste.  Long  since  he  had  given  up  such  slight  care 
as  he  ever  had  for  success  at  the  Bar.  He  retained  his 
share  in  Chambers  for  the  convenience  of  their  comparative 
neighbourhood  to  Printing  House  Square.  His  spring  at 
eminence  in  journalism  was  nerved  by  the  relationship  to  a 
career  in  politics.  As  a  matter  of  course  he  had  declined 
an  offer  by  Mr.  John  Walter,  the  then  principal  proprietor 
and  manager  of  the  Times,  of  the  City,  Financial  or  Money 
Article  editorship.  He  was  not  of  a  nature  to  intimate 
his  ultimate  ambition.  None  of  his  intimates  can,  however,, 
have  been  surprised  when,  on  a  vacancy  in  1876  for  the 
Cornish  borough  of  Liskeard,  he  declared  himself  a  candidate 
and  was  elected." 

Though  the  Cobdenite  lamb  could  hardly  be  expected 
to  lie  down  peacefully  beside  the  Palmerstonian  lion,  the 
new  recruit  quickly  estabhshed  the  friendliest  relations, 
with  his  chief  ;  and  the  two  men  often  attended  the  debates 
together  and  dined  in  company.  The  end  of  the  Civil  War 
in  America  a  year  after  his  appointment  removed  the  main, 
bone  of  contention  ;  and  during  Gladstone's  first  Ministry 
the  Times  advanced  from  its  cautious  Whiggism  to  a  stand- 
point of  moderate  Liberalism,  supporting  the  disestablish.- 

78  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

ment  of  the  Irish  Church,  the  Irish  Land  Bill  of  1870,  the 
ballot,  the  abolition  of  purchase  in  the  army,  and  even  the 
principle  of  minority  representation.  Delane  recognised 
to  the  full  Courtney's  range  of  info'rmation,  independent 
judgment  and  powers  of  work,  and,  knowing  the  views  of 
his  several  Ueutenants,  he  entrusted  to  each  such  orders 
as  he  knew  could  be  conscientiously  and  cheerfully  obeyed. 
The  routine  of  a  leader-writer's  life  has  been  vividly 
described  by  Dean  Wace :  "  Delane  generally  came  away 
from  dinner  in  time  to  reach  Printing  House  Square  about 
ten  P.M.,  or  at  least  before  eleven,  and  then  he  had  to  bring 
to  bear  upon  the  materials  laid  before  him,  whether  of  the 
telegraph,  or  of  parliamentary  reporters  or  correspondents' 
letters,  the  knowledge  of  the  real  position  of  affairs  which 
he  had  been  gaining  during  the  day.  There  were  generally 
two  or  three  leader-writers  in  attendance,  in  separate  rooms, 
and  in  a  short  time  after  his  arrival  he  would  send  to  each 
of  them,  unless  they  had  been  previously  instructed,  the 
subject  he  wished  them  to  treat.  If  its  treatment  were 
obvious,  he  would  leave  them  to  themselves  with  no  more 
than  a  verbal  message.  But  if  it  were  a  matter  of  difficulty 
or  doubt  he  would  soon  come  into  the  writer's  room,  and  in 
a  few  minutes'  conversation  indicate  the  hne  which  it  was 
desirable  to  take  and  the  considerations  which  t^e  writer 
should  have  in  the  background.  He  never  gave  these 
suggestions  in  such  detail  as  to  hamper  original  treatment 
on  the  writer's  part.  A  few  interesting  and  humorous 
observations  would  suffice  to  illustrate  the  true  state  of  the 
question  and  to  indicate  the  purpose  to  be  kept  in  view, 
and  then  the  more  original  the  writer's  treatment  of  the 
subject  the  better  he  was  pleased.  His  influence  in  such 
conversations  was  due,  not  so  much  to  his  authority  as 
editor,  as  to  the  impression  he  produced  of  mastery  of  the 
whole  situation.  To  talk  to  him  was  hke  talking  to  the 
great  political  or  social  world  itself,  and  one's  mind  seemed 
to  move  in  a  larger  sphere  after  a  short  discussion  with 
him.  He  always  Ustened  patiently  to  enquiries  or  hesita- 
tions, and  was  tolerant  of  everything  but  trivialities.  He 
watched  with  the  utmost  care  not  merely  the  substance  and 


the  general  argument  of  an  article,  but  every  detail  of 
expression.  He  could  correct  commas  at  3.30  a.m.,  and 
would  write  one  of  his  brilliant  little  notes  at  that  hour  to 
warn  a  writer  against  an  incorrect  expression.  He  was 
very  considerate  if  one  of  his  subordinates  was  in  real 
difficulty,  as  from  illness  or  domestic  trouble,  but  in  the 
ordinary  course  of  work  he  would  take  no  excuses.  A  man 
must  do  the  work  given  him,  and  do  it  well,  or  else  Delane 
had  no  place  for  him," 

The  leader-writers  of  the  Tivies  formed  a  band,  the 
members  of  which  were  as  a  rule  unknown  to  one  another. 
It  was  said  of  Delane  that  he  "  kept  his  beasts  in  separate 
cages,"  and  if  they  met  in  the  passages  or  on  the  stairs  it 
was  not  etiquette  to  speak.  "  You  will  no  doubt  be  sur- 
prised to  hear  that  I  knew  nothing  of  Lord  Courtney  in  the 
old  Delane  days,"  writes  Dean  Wace,  "  To  the  best  of  my 
belief  I  never  met  him  in  Printing  House  Square  during 
the  seventeen  years  I  worked  there.  I  knew  his  name  as 
a  fellow  leader-writer,  and  I  was  aware  sometimes  of  his 
presence  in  an  adjoining  room ;  and  a  misdirected  letter 
from  Delane  to  him  once  came  into  my  hands.  But  I 
believe  I  never  once  saw  him  until  I  met  him  and  I  think 
Lady  Courtney  one  day  at  dinner  at  Mr,  Stebbing's  house." 
The  dinner-party  took  place  some  years  after  all  three  had 
severed  their  connection  with  the  Times. 

The  Times  leaders  were  suggested  and  revised  by  the 
editor,  who  was  not  less  critical  of  the  form  than  of  the 
substance.  "  However  trivial  or  lofty  the  subject,"  writes 
George  Brodrick,  "  he  expected  it  to  be  treated  in  good 
simple  English,  without  slang  or  technicality.  But  I  never 
found  him  unduly  censorious.  He  scarcely  ever  corrected 
what  I  had  written,  and  never  altered  its  sense,  though  he 
would  occasionally  strike  out  a  sentence  or  even  a  paragraph 
which  might  commit  the  paper  too  far."  ^  When,  however, 
questions  of  high  policy  were  involved  the  writer  was  some- 
times little  more  than  a  shorthand  clerk,  so  precise  were  his 
instructions  and  so  drastic  the  revision.  For  instance,  in 
the  leaders  which  record  the  passing  of  Cobden,  Lincoln  and 

^  Memories  and  Impressions,  chap.  vii. 

8o  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Palmerston  in  1865,  though  the  pen  was  held  by  Courtney, 
we  hear  the  authentic  accents  of  Delane.  Here  is  the  verdict 
of  Printing  House  Square  on  the  greatest  of  Free  Traders. 
"  That  his  political  career  was  not  faultless  few  would  deny, 
and  it  would  be  idle  in  us,  who  have  often  had  occasion  to 
differ  from  him,  to  conceal  it.  Outside  the  range  of  economic 
doctrine  he  ran  athwart  the  opinions  of  his  countrjnmen. 
His  remonstrances  during  the  Russian  war  were  so  little 
effectual  that  he  resolved  to  retire  for  a  season  from  pubhc 
life  should  such  a  crisis  recur.  The  explanation  of  this 
anomaly  may  perhaps  be  found  in  the  defects  of  his  early 
training.  Introduced  when  very  young  into  a  business 
life,  his  notion  of  the  State  was  Uttle  more  than  that  of  a 
machinery  to  secure  the  punctual  observance  of  commercial 
relations.  Had  he  received  the  classical  education  which 
he  often  took  occasion  to  contemn,  he  would  probably 
have  escaped  from  such  Hmited  views  and  have  sympathised 
with  wider  aspirations."  No  less  grudging  was  the  tribute 
to  Lincoln,  whom  the  Times  had  combated  until  victory 
declared  itself  unmistakably  on  his  side.  While  admitting 
that  "  in  spite  of  drawbacks  of  manner  and  errors  of  taste 
he  slowly  won  for  himself  the  respect  and  confidence  of  all, 
and  his  perfect  honesty  speedily  became  apparent,"  Delane 
is  unaware  that  he  is  dealing  with  one  of  the  noblest  figures 
of  the  modem  world.  When,  however,  we  pass  from 
Cobden  and  Lincoln  to  Palmerston,  we  exchange  the  cold 
grey  sky  for  a  pageant  of  Venetian  colouring.  "  Among 
the  statesmen  who  sleep  in  the  Abbey  there  may  be  some 
whose  intellectual  power  wiU  be  estimated  by  after  genera- 
tions above  that  of  Lord  Palmerston,  but  none  of  whom  it 
can  be  said  that  he  was  more  beloved  by  his  contemporaries. 
His  one  thought  was  the  honour  and  glory  of  England." 

When  Palmerston  left  the  arena  Delane  sorrowfully 
admitted  that  Lord  RusseU,  "  the  representative  of  the 
narrowest  school  of  Whiggism,"  was  for  the  moment  in- 
evitable. But  behind  the  ageing  Prime  Minister  stood 
Gladstone,  to  whom  all  eyes  turned.  The  Whig  Delane 
had  no  great  love  for  either  the  Liberal  Gladstone  or  the 
Tory  Disraeli ;   but  his  attitude  towards  the  new  leader  of 


the  House  was  certainly  not  more  critical  than  that  of  his 
latest  recruit.  "If  we  were  required  to  name  the  quality 
of  Mr.  Gladstone's  mind  which  chiefly  detracts  from  the 
great  gifts  he  possesses  and  mars  the  influence  he  would 
otherwise  wield,"  wrote  Courtney  in  a  four-column  review 
of  his  Financial  Statements,  "  we  should  point  to  his  weak 
feeling  of  proportion.  And  every  one  must  have  noticed 
his  remarkable  fertility  of  belief  impelling  him  to  ardent 
and  confident  utterances  on  subjects  which  others  approach 
with  doubt  and  hesitation.  He  muses  for  a  season  over  a 
particular  subject,  and  its  importance  rapidly  rises  in  his 
mind.  The  counter-checks  and  qualifications  which  are 
involved  in  its  relations  with  other  facts  are  overlooked 
or  forgotten.  His  literary  adventures  are  marked  by  the 
same  precipitancy  and  want  of  balance.  He  sees  too  many 
objects  to  be  constant  to  one,  and  he  sees  them  too  im- 
perfectly to  know  that  he  ought  to  be  constant  to  one. 
Thus  a  man  of  great  gifts  is  doomed  to  occupy  a  lower  rank 
than  one  of  more  restricted  powers.  Burke,  with  all  his 
genius  and  breadth  of  philosophy,  was  as  a  practical  states- 
man inferior  to  Pitt.  Mr.  Gladstone  is  an  Anglican  Burke, 
and  the  distrust  with  which  ordinary  Englishmen  regarded 
his  great  original  pursues  him.  Such  men  are  reckoned 
troublesome  opponents  but  dangerous  allies.  While  associ- 
ated with  them  we  know  not  whither  we  may  be  led,  nor 
what  paradox  we  may  be  required  to  defend."  These 
stinging  sentences  were  penned  in  1864  ;  and  though  the 
writer  was  one  day  to  learn  something  of  the  greatness  of 
"  the  Anglican  Burke,"  he  might  have  quoted  them  in 
1886  as  a  prophetic  denunciation  of  the  fiery  champion  of 
Home  Rule. 

Palmerston's  longevity  had  postponed  Parliamentary 
Reform  ;  and  the  first  task  of  the  Russell  Ministry  was  to 
deal  with  the  franchise.  But  though  the  need  of  some 
advance  was  almost  universally  conceded,  the  widest 
differences  existed  as  to  the  changes  that  were  desirable. 
Four  unsuccessful  attempts  had  been  made  since  1832  ; 
but  their  authors  had  been  half-hearted,  and  public  opinion 
was  indifferent  till  it  was  educated  by  Bright.     Delane  was 


82  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

no  democrat ;  but  he  knew  that  the  moment  had  come, 
and  he  extended  a  steady  though  discriminating  support 
to  the  efforts  of  the  Reformers.  His  views  as  to  the  necessity 
and  character  of  the  advance,  the  need  of  redistribution  and 
minority  representation,  were  shared  by  Courtney,  to  whom 
it  fell  to  write  the  leaders  throughout  the  prolonged  discus- 
sions. Possessing  the  confidence  of  his  chief,  an  exhaustive 
acquaintance  with  the  problem,  and  a  clear  idea  of  the 
route  he  desired  to  travel,  he  exerted  a  real  influence  on 
the  changing  course  of  events  ;  and  he  might  without 
presumption  have  claimed  a  place  among  the  authors  of  the 
second  of  our  four  Reform  Bills. 

From  the  outset  Courtney  insisted  that  the  Government 
should  deal  with  the  situation  on  comprehensive  lines.  "  We 
are  now  told,"  he  wrote  on  February  20,  "  that  simultane- 
ously with  the  Franchise  Bill  a  second  Bill  will  be  introduced 
dealing  with  the  question  of  redistribution.  We  are  glad 
to  hear  it.  A  perfect  House  of  Commons  ought  to  be  a 
representation  in  miniature  of  all  the  social  forces  of  the 
nation.  It  ought  not  to  be  possible  to  name  any  interest 
which  had  not  its  peculiar  defenders,  to  speak  of  any  class 
which  could  not  point  to  representatives  identified  with 
themselves.  The  actual  House  goes  further  than  any 
representative  body  in  the  world  to  realise  this  picture,  but 
it  is  still  far  behind  what  it  might  be  made.  The  vulgar 
theories  of  universal  suffrage,  to  which  mere  reductions  of 
the  franchise  point,  are  of  course  absolutely  incompatible 
with  perfect  representation.  A  mere  Franchise  Bill  could 
not  pass."  The  rumour  was  unfounded  ;  and  when  the 
Franchise  Bill  was  introduced  on  March  12  he  gave  vent  to 
his  angry  disappointment.  "  It  is  impossible,"  he  wrote, 
"  to  feel  otherwise  than  languid  and  careless  about  a  measure 
which  would  only  unsettle  the  whole  electoral  system." 
The  changes  were  limited  to  England  and  Wales,  and  there 
was  no  reference  to  redistribution,  without  which  it  would 
never  pass.  An  amendment  to  the  Second  Reading  de- 
clining to  reduce  the  franchise  till  the  Government  produced 
a  complete  scheme  for  the  representation  of  the  people  was 
only  defeated  by  a  majority  of  five.     The  Ministry  took 


fright  and  promised  a  Redistribution  Bill.  The  new 
measure,  introduced  eariy  m  May,  was  welcomed  as  "  fair 
and  moderate,"  "  so  simple  and  practical  that  we  ask  why 
it  was  not  introduced  before."  There  was,  however,  no 
great  enthusiasm  for  Reform,  and  the  Whig  recalcitrants, 
following  Lowe  into  the  Cave  of  Adullam,  combined  with 
the  Tory  opposition  and  defeated  the  Government  in  Com- 
mittee on  an  amendment  to  substitute  rating  for  rental. 

Lord  Russell  was  succeeded  by  Disraeli,  who  was  quite 
ready  to  execute  a  volte  face,  despite  the  repugnance  to 
Reform  of  Lord  Cranbome  and  others  of  his  colleagues. 
The  popular  demand,  moreover,  was  growing,  and  the 
Hyde  Park  riots  on  July  25,  which  Courtney  witnessed  and 
described  in  an  anonymous  letter  to  the  Times,  frightened 
the  waverers  into  action.  At  the  beginning  of  1867  he 
reviewed  the  situation  in  a  hopeful  spirit.  Since  the  leaders 
were  agreed  on  many  points,  the  problem  should  be  simple. 
Delay  was  dangerous,  and  genuine  reformers  should  accept 
any  practical  suggestions  from  whatever  quarter.  "  With 
a  Conservative  Ministry  in  power  and  a  strong  but  friendly 
Opposition,"  he  added  on  February  18,  "  it  ought  to  be 
possible  to  carry  a  change  neither  half-hearted  nor  departing 
from  the  ancient  lines  of  the  constitution.  We  appeal  to 
all  parties  to  join  in  a  sincere  attempt."  When,  however, 
the  Government  scheme  saw  the  hght,  it  was  even  more 
soundly  belaboured  than  that  of  Lord  Russell.  It  was 
"  the  worst  scheme  ever  introduced,"  and  its  fancy  fran- 
chises were  impossible.  Mill's  gallant  attempt  to  secure 
woman  suffrage  was  doomed  to  failure ;  and  Courtney 
concentrated  his  attention  on  the  need  for  minority  re- 
presentation. "  The  question  of  the  hour,"  he  wrote  on 
March  13,  "  is.  What  is  the  best  mode  of  preventing  the 
benefits  of  representative  government  from  being  drowned 
in  the  enfranchisement  of  the  most  numerous  classes  of  the 
nation  ?  Plurahty  of  votes  is  impossible  ;  but  cumulative 
voting  for  constituencies  returning  three  members  will 
secure  diversity  of  counsel.  How  far  it  should  be  carried 
is  a  matter  for  discussion  ;  but  as  to  its  policy  there  is 
really  no  question."    When  Mill  put  down  a  resolution 

84  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

enabling  electors  in  different  parts  of  the  country  to  combine 
for  the  election  of  a  representative,  the  proposal  was  dis- 
missed by  the  Times  as  miinteUigible  and  impracticable. 
The  true  policy  was  the  cmnulative  vote  which  would  repre- 
sent every  party  in  proportion  to  its  numbers.  "  The 
Representation  of  Minorities,"  wrote  Courtney  on  June  3, 
"is  an  unfortunate  phrase.  It  suggests  the  notion  of  weak, 
helpless  persons  crying  for  some  unusual  assistance  in  the 
attempt  to  keep  their  place  in  the  struggle  for  hfe."  The 
cumulative  vote  was  fair  to  the  majority  no  less  than  to 
the  minority,  for  both  would  secure  their  rights  and  no 
more  than  their  rights.  "  Never  in  the  memory  of  the 
present  generation  has  the  House  of  Commons  been  so  free 
from  prejudices  as  at  this  moment.  All  propositions  have 
a  chance.  The  cumulative  vote  must  be  adopted  if  dis- 
passionately examined.  The  Government,  having  passed 
the  franchise,  seem  to  have  come  to  the  end  of  their  tether. 
The  House  is  thus  free  to  entertain  suggestions  from  which 
it  would  have  shrunk  as  visionary  six  months  ago." 

Courtney's  labours  were  warmly  appreciated  by  the 
friends  of  proportional  representation. 

From  Professor  Cannes 

June  7,  1867. — I  am  delighted  to  see  the  efforts  you  are 
making  to  arouse  the  country  to  the  importance  of  redistribu- 
tion and  more  especially  to  the  unspeakable  importance  of 
liberating  independent  voters  from  the  despotism  of  local 
majorities.  I  observed  a  few  weeks  ago  that  you  were  bold 
enough  to  propound  the  principle  of  Hare's  scheme  ;  ^  and  I 
thought,  Is  it  possible  that  the  Times  is  about  to  be  the  apostle 
of  a  truth  that  is  not  commonplace  ?  Alas,  as  I  feared,  the 
oracle  knew  not  the  precious  things  it  was  uttering.  In  the 
article  on  Mill's  speech  it  has  effectually  vindicated  its  essential 

Caimes  was  a  little  too  severe  on  the  Times,  for  Delane 
accepted    the   principle   of   minority   representation ;    but 

1  "  Hare's  book,"  remarked  Caimes  to  Courtney  on  one  occasion, 
"  proves  itself.  As  you  read  it  you  can  no  more  resist  the  conclusions 
than  you  can  resist  a  proposition  in  EucUd."  See  Courtney's  obituary 
notice  of  Hare  in  Athenesum,  May  16,  1891. 


his  support  would  have  been  lukewarm  and  ineffective 
without  the  apostolic  fervour  of  his  lieutenant.  "  I 
have  told  Courtney  he  may  ride  his  cumulative  hobby 
to-morrow,"  he  wrote  to  Dasent  before  leaving  town  for 
the  Ascot  races,  "  and  he  proposes  to  quote  the  great 
authorities  in  its  favour.     Don't  let  him  ride  it  too  far."  ^ 

The  Redistribution  Bill  was  introduced  on  June  13  ; 
but  it  found  little  favour  in  Printing  House  Square.  In 
Committee  Lowe  proposed  the  cumulative  vote  without 
success  ;  but  the  Bill  emerged  in  an  improved  form.  "  It 
is  the  monument  of  many  minds,"  wrote  Courtney  on  July 
12.  "It  embodies  the  ideas  of  no  Cabinet  and  no  Minister. 
The  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  has  conducted  it  through 
the  House,  but  he  is  not  the  author  of  the  Bill.  The  work 
of  the  Ministry  was  valueless."  On  July  31  he  raised  his 
voice  in  thanksgiving  for  the  acceptance  of  Lord  Cairns's 
amendment  providing  for  the  representation  of  minorities 
in  constituencies  returning  three  members.  Lord  Malmes- 
bury  opposed  the  proposal  on  behalf  of  the  Government, 
as  Disraeli  had  opposed  it  in  the  House  of  Commons  ;  but 
nearly  every  speaker  joined  in  its  praises.  "  Such  a 
triumph  of  reason  and  truth  may  well  startle  us.  The 
supposed  crotchet  of  yesterday  has  become  a  fact.  The 
voters  who  are  now  hopelessly  outvoted  will  start  into 
fresh  vitality,  enfranchised  in  deed,  not  only  in  word." 
Two  days  later  a  leader  entitled  "  Victory "  joyfully  re- 
corded the  Commons'  acceptance  of  the  amendment,  despite 
the  antagonism  of  Gladstone  and  Bright.  "  Minority  repre- 
sentation," he  wrote  in  19 14,  "  became  a  living  question 
in  the  debates  of  1867,  when  Mr.  Mill  and  Mr.  Fawcett, 
supporters  of  the  Bill,  and  Mr.  Lowe  and  Lord  Robert 
Cecil,  strong  opponents  of  it,  pressed  for  the  introduction 
of  the  principle  into  the  measure,  which  introduction  was 
ultimately  carried  despite  the  continued  opposition  of  the 
three  leading  poUtical  personages  of  the  time — Mr.  Glad- 
stone, Mr.  Disraeli  and  Mr.  Bright.  The  controversy  was 
fierce  to  a  degree  now  scarcely  to  be  apprehended."  ^    He 

^  Delane's  Life,  ii.  203. 
*  Memories  of  John  Westlake,  chap.  iv. 

86  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

does  not  add  that  the  partial  victory  was  largely  due  to 
the  powerful  advocacy  of  a  certain  leader-writer  on  the 

Three  years  after  the  passing  of  the  Reform  Bill  it  was 
Courtney's  responsible  duty  to  convey  to  the  world  Delane's 
opinions  on  the  Franco-German  War.^  The  views  of  the 
two  men  on  the  general  merits  of  the  struggle  coincided. 
Both  of  them  knew  and  loved  France  ;  but  neither  of  them 
admired  the  character  or  the  policy  of  her  ruler.  Never 
had  the  oracle  of  Printing  House  Square  spoken  with  more 
unfaltering  accents  than  when  Napoleon  IIL  plunged 
madly  into  war.  The  conflict  was  denounced  as  a  crime, 
the  pretext  as  "  disgracefully  frivolous."  "  The  war  is  for 
the  Rhine,  which  has  for  centuries  been  the  avowed  object 
of  French  ambition.  Every  German  has  passed  his  life  in 
pondering  on  this  very  struggle,  which  has  come  at  last. 
The  Emperor  stakes  his  dynasty  on  success."  The  publica- 
tion of  Benedetti's  draft  treaty  of  1867  in  the  issue  of  July 
25  suppUed  a  text  for  further  denunciations  of  the  Imperial 
mischief-maker ;  and  when  the  danger  to  Belgium  thus 
revealed  stirred  the  Government  to  threaten  with  war 
whichever  belligerent  violated  its  neutrality,  the  Times  was 
emphatic  in  its  approval. 

Courtney's  sentiments  of  grief  and  indignation  were 
shared  by  the  leaders  of  the  historic  parties.  The  Prime 
Minister  described  the  war  as  the  most  melancholy  event 
of  the  century,  and  Disraeh  declared  that  it  had  been  begun 
on  pretexts  that  would  have  been  considered  disgraceful 
even  in  the  eighteenth  century.  When  the  news  of  the 
early  defeats  came  pouring  in,  wrath  against  the  Emperor 
was  mingled  with  sympathy  for  his  suffering  subjects. 
"  Unhappy  France,  unhappy  Emperor  !  "  wrote  the  Times 
on  August  16.  "  What  madness  wantonly  provoked  this 
unequal  contest  ?  "  Yet  France  was  far  from  innocent. 
When  Thiers  set  forth  after  Sedan  on  his  mission  to  the 

1  "  Nothing  shall  ever  persuade  me  except  the  event,"  wrote  Delane 
to  W.  H.  Russell,  "  that  the  Prussians  will  withstand  the  French,  and  I 
would  lay  my  last  shilUng  on  Casquette  against  Pumpernickel  "  (Atkins, 
Life  of  W.  H.  Russell,  ii.  165).  Courtney  disagreed  and  sent  his  chief  a 
pencilled  note,  "  Are  you  sure  ?  " 


Courts  of  Europe  in  search  of  mediators,  he  was  informed 
with  almost  brutal  plainness  that  he  had  nothing  to  hope 
from  England.  "It  is  impossible  to  acquit  the  French 
nation  of  complicity  in  the  unprovoked  attack  upon 
Germany.  France  cannot  be  encouraged  in  the  hope  of 
escaping  scatheless  from  a  war  she  wantonly  undertook. 
The  dethronement  of  the  Emperor  cannot  free  the  nation 
from  the  penalties  of  sanctioning  the  Imperial  policy. 
The  war  must  go  on  till  the  French  people  are  ready  to 
acknowledge  that  they  have  been  guilty  of  wrong  towards 
their  neighbours  and  to  give  sureties  against  a  repetition 
of  it."  Moreover,  Thiers  was  not  the  man  for  such  a 
mission.  "  Above  all  others  he  helped  to  develop  that 
hateful  idea  of  French  dictatorship  in  Europe  which  was  at 
once  the  secret  of  the  Emperor's  power  and  the  cause  of  his 

Courtney,  like  Delane,  desired  Germany  to  win,  and 
declared  that  the  King  of  Prussia  had  "  at  every  step  given 
evidence  of  that  spirit  of  simple  piety  which  animates  his 
breast."  But  he  had  no  desire  for  a  vindictive  settlement, 
Germany  was  advised  to  seek  securities  against  future 
aggression,  but  not  to  humiliate  a  proud  nation.  "  We 
ask  Germans  to  reconsider  their  demand  for  Alsace-Lorraine. 
The  annexation  would  bring  a  legacy  of  diihculty  to  Ger- 
many and  leave  France  with  a  constantly  irritating  sense 
of  injury."  The  wiser  course  would  be  to  neutralise  the 
provinces  by  denuding  them  of  fortresses  and  troops.  No 
British  statesman  or  journalist  was  a  more  ardent  supporter 
of  Germany  than  Delane  ;  and  Courtney's  desire  to  restrain 
the  conquerors  in  their  hour  of  triumph  caused  him  some 
annoyance.  "  I  have  asked  Mozley  to  write  a  leader  on 
mediation,"  he  wrote  to  Dasent,  September  30,  "a  subject 
on  which  C.  is  hopelessly  wrong.  I  suspect  he  is  inspired 
by  Fawcett,  and  he  would  have  us  perpetually  scolding  at 
Bismarck  and  telling  him  he  must  not  take  Alsace  and 
Lorraine,  and  offering  to  mediate  for  him  without  these 
conditions,  on  which,  as  I  need  not  tell  you,  aU  Germany 
has  set  its  heart.  The  Cabinet  to-day  unanimously  decided 
against  this  fretful  poUcy,  and  it  is  of  no  use  snapping  at 

88  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

them  about  it.  But  if  you  give  C.  a  chance,  he  will.  He 
is,  however,  very  good  to  write  on  any  question  connected 
with  the  war  into  which  neither  mediation  nor  the  conditions 
of  peace  enter."  ^ 

At  the  outbreak  of  war  the  Times  had  suggested  that 
Great  Britain  should  cultivate  friendly  relations  with 
Russia  and  Austria  with  a  view  to  joint  mediation  at  some 
future  date  ;  and  on  October  15  it  declared  that  the  time 
had  come  for  the  three  chief  neutrals  to  propose  the  dis- 
mantling of  Alsace-Lorraine  and  to  guarantee  active  support 
to  either  belligerent  in  future  if  attacked  by  the  other 
without  first  submitting  the  dispute  to  their  arbitration. 
Such  a  proposal  would  probably  be  rejected  ;  but  it  was 
worth  making,  since  the  war  was  growing  in  ferocity. 
"  It  was  several  days  before  the  15th  of  October,"  wrote 
Lord  Courtney,  forty-seven  years  later,  in  reprinting  the 
leader,  2  "  that  I  first  suggested  to  Mr.  Delane  the  idea  of 
my  writing  an  article  proposing  mediation.  He  was  not 
favourable  to  the  proposal ;  and  indeed  he  had  known  on 
the  30th  of  September  that  the  Cabinet  had  rejected  media- 
tion. He  and  I,  however,  continued  casual  talks  on  the 
subject  until  he  consented  to  my  making  the  trial.  I  must 
admit  that  the  result  justified  his  hesitation."  The  sugges- 
tion of  mediation  surprised  many  readers  of  the  Times  ; 
but  Lord  Morley  has  revealed  the  fact  that  the  Prime 
Minister  himself  desired  to  co-operate  with  the  other  neutrals 
in  a  protest  against  the  transfer  of  Alsace-Lorraine  without 
reference  to  the  wishes  of  their  inhabitants,  but  failed  to 
carry  the  Cabinet. 

A  few  days  later  the  British  Government  proposed  an 
armistice  for  the  summoning  of  a  Constituent  Assembly, 
and  urged  Russia  and  Austria  to  join  in  the  recommenda- 
tion. The  invitation  was  naturally  refused,  and  on  the 
surrender  of  Metz  the  Times  exclaimed  "  Finis  Galliae," 
and  called  on  her  to  recognise  her  defeat.  If  the  price 
of  peace  was  indeed  the  surrender  of  Alsace  and  part  of 
Lorraine,  she  must  make  up  her  mind  to  pay  it.    There  was 

*  Delane' s  Life,  ii.  270-71. 
*  Alsace-Lorraine  :  A  Memorial  of  i8yo. 


now  a  good  deal  of  friction  between  Courtney  and  Delane, 
who  explained  the  situation  to  Dasent  on  November  9,  on 
the  eve  of  his  autumn  holiday.  "  The  most  important 
thing  I  have  to  tell  you  about  things  here  is  that  C,  whose 
zeal  and  assiduity  cannot  be  too  highly  praised,  has  taken 
a  wrong  twist  about  the  war,  and  especially  about  the 
negotiations,  and  wishes  to  be  violently  anti-Ministerial. 
I  am  no  worshipper  of  Gladstone,  and  think  he  has  shewn 
himself  eminently  '  parochial '  all  through  the  war ;  but 
Granville  has,  I  believe,  done  all  that  could  be  done  with 
any  safety  or  indeed  any  advantage.  I  think  it  was  we 
who  principally  egged  him  on  into  proposing  the  armistice, 
for  which  C.  now  would  bitterly  reproach  him.  I  was 
obliged  to-night  to  leave  out  his  article  on  the  speeches 
at  the  Guildhall.  It  was  so  violently  adverse  that  I  am 
•sure  it  would  have  jarred  upon  the  popular  sentiment. 
I  am  very  sorry  for  this,  for  C.  has  worked  most 
manfully ;  indeed  I  have  never  known  anybody  take  so 
much  trouble  to  cram  into  his  article  the  last  scrap  of 
intelligence."  ^ 

Courtney's  opposition  to  the  annexation  of  the  Rhine 
Provinces  roused  the  ire  of  an  even  greater  man  than 
Delane.  On  November  18  the  Times  pubhshed  the  cele- 
brated letter  from  the  veteran  historian  of  Frederick  the 
Great  which  was  read  with  rapture  and  remembered  with 
gratitude  by  Germans  all  over  the  world.  "It  is  probably 
an  amiable  trait  of  human  nature,"  began  Carlyle,  "  this 
cheap  pity  and  newspaper  lamentation  over  fallen  and 
afflicted  France  ;  but  it  seems  to  me  a  very  idle,  dangerous 
and  misguided  feeling  as  applied  to  the  cession  of  Alsace 
and  Lorraine,  and  argues  a  most  profound  ignorance  of  the 
conduct  of  France  towards  Germany  for  long  centuries 
back."  He  proceeded  to  review  the  history  of  the  border- 
land, and  concluded  that  it  would  be  folly  for  Germany 
not  to  raise  up  a  boundary  fence  between  herself  and  such 
a  neighbour.  The  letter  closed  on  a  note  of  heartfelt 
thanksgiving.  "  That  noble,  patient,  deep,  pious  and  solid 
Germany  should  be  at  length  welded  into  a  nation  and 

^  Delane' s  Life,  ii.  270-71. 

90  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap- 

become  Queen  of  the  Continent,  instead  of  vapouring, 
vainglorious,  gesticulating,  quarrelsome,  restless  and  over- 
sensitive France,  seems  to  me  the  hopefuUest  pubHc  fact 
that  has  occurred  in  my  time." 

The  same  issue  of  the  Times  which  printed  Carlyle's 
letter  contained  a  dignified  reply  by  Courtney  in  the  form 
of  a  leading  article.  France,  he  admits,  had  attacked 
neighbours  of  whose  union  she  was  jealous,  and  had  been 
beaten,  and  must  suffer  appropriate  penalties.  "  If  it  were 
necessary  for  the  future  security  of  German  peace  that  a 
portion  of  the  French  people  should  be  torn  from  the  body 
to  which  they  chng,  the  claim  to  sever  Alsatians  and 
Lorrainers  from  their  countrymen  would  be  just.  If  it  is 
unnecessary,  much  less  if  it  threatens  to  be  injurious,  it 
must  be  condemned  ;  for  it  overrides  for  no  purpose  the  law 
of  freedom  that  must  prevail  unless  supreme  considerations 
of  safety  put  it  aside.  Mr.  Carlyle  gives  no  sign  that  he 
has  balanced  these  considerations,  but,  treating  provinces 
as  chattels  and  their  inhabitants  as  vermin  that  may 
incidentally  swarm  about  them,  pronounces  it  to  be  per- 
fectly just,  rational  and  wise  that  Germany  should  take 
Alsace  and  Lorraine.  We  do  not  wish  to  imitate  this 
dogmatism.  Is  it  necessary  to  the  peace  of  Germany  ? 
That  is  the  question.  Are  the  other  securities  the  French 
people  are  wilUng  to  give  for  their  future  behaviour  suffi- 
cient ?  If  they  are,  the  demand  of  the  conquerors,  being 
unnecessary,  is  unjust,  irrational  and  foohsh." 

While  Europe  was  watching  the  collapse  of  France  with 
breathless  interest,  Russia  suddenly  flung  a  new  apple  of 
discord  into  the  diplomatic  world.  Gortschakoff's  circular, 
denouncing  the  Black  Sea  clauses  of  the  Treaty  of  1856, 
was  received  on  November  15,  and  on  November  16  the 
Times  expressed  "  profound  regret,  not  unmixed  with 
indignation."  It  had  believed  Alexander  II.  to  stand  for 
peace ;  but  it  had  been  grievously  disappointed.  The 
circular  had  reopened  the  Eastern  question  at  the  wrong 
time  and  in  the  worst  manner.  It  was  impossible  to  admit 
for  a  moment  the  claim  of  Russia  to  free  herself  from  the 
Treaty  of  Paris.     If  this  was  allowed,  what  trust  could  be 


reposed  in  any  treaty  ?  Lord  Granville  had  issued  a  grave 
protest,  and  we  could  not  recede  from  our  position.  "  The 
prospect  of  peace  may  at  any  moment  vanish  from  our 
eyes,"  wrote  the  Times  on  Novenber  19.  "  We  have  to 
face  the  possibility  that  before  1870  closes  every  one  of  the 
Great  Powers  may  be  in  arms.  It  does  not  rest  with  us 
to  maintain  peace.  It  is  impossible  to  allow  the  force  of 
public  law  to  be  overthrown  in  this  manner.  If  Russia 
proceeds  to  fortify  the  shores  of  the  Black  Sea  and  to  launch 
vessels  of  war  on  its  waters,  our  duty  will  be  painful  but 
unavoidable.  We  should  never  enforce  a  treaty  at  variance 
with  the  higher  law  ;  but  this  was  innocent,  if  not  laudable." 
The  menacing  tone  of  the  Times  was  challenged  by  Mill 
and  Froude,  who  maintained  that,  though  resentment  was 
justifiable,  not  every  breach  of  treaty  should  be  followed 
by  hostihties,  and  that  England  should  not  fight  if  Russia 
refused  to  withdraw.^  When  Gortschakoff's  bomb  burst  in 
London  Delane  was  on  his  way  to  Italy,  and  Dasent  was  in 
command  at  Printing  House  Square.  The  editor  naturally 
resented  Russia's  high  -  handed  action ;  but  Courtney's 
polemics  were  a  little  too  hot  for  his  taste. 

/.  T.  Delane  to  G.  W.  Dasent 

Naples,  November  24. — We  found  Saturday's  paper  on  our 
arrival,  and  C.'s  article  on  Gortschakoff,  and  Mill's  and  Froude 's 
letters,  I  confess,  rather  frightened  me.  I  most  wiUingly  accept 
firmness  and  plain  speaking  as  a  means  of  preventing  war,  and 
therefore  approve  of  Granville's  reply  to  Gortschakoff ;  but  I 
by  no  means  accept  it  as  an  engagement  binding  us  to  consider 
the  infraction  of  the  treaty  as  a  casus  belli.  Every  one  of  our 
allies  is  equally  bound,  and  it  is  no  part  of  our  duty  to  perform 
the  whole  police  of  the  world.  I  am  all  for  protesting  as  vigor- 
ously as  possible,  but  not  for  undertaking  any  obligation  which 
our  allies  will  not  share. 

There  is  a  certain  piquancy  in  the  notion  of  the  Philo- 
sophic Radical's  bellicose  ardour  being  held  in  check  by 
his  Palmerstonian  chief.  He  was  promptly  switched  off 
Russia,  and  the  leader  of  November  30,  the  work  of  another 

^  A  long  private  letter  to  Courtney  is  printed  in  Mill's  Letters,  ii.  281. 

92  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

hand,  breathes  a  more  accommodating  spirit.  The  treaty, 
it  declared,  must  be  maintained  till  it  was  modified  by  the 
same  authority  that  made  it.  "  But  there  is  no  immediate 
danger — if  we  are  true  to  ourselves,  no  danger  at  all.  Russia 
has  challenged  the  parties  to  the  Treaty  in  a  document  more 
offensive  than  any  put  forth  in  the  present  century.  But  a 
mere  insult  is  not  a  sufficient  cause  of  war."  Let  Prussia, 
who  was  doubtless  as  pained  as  Great  Britain,  arrange  a 
conference  of  the  signatories  of  the  Treaty  of  1856. 

When  Delane  was  back  Courtney  was  allowed  to  write 
on  Russia  again.  But  the  crisis  was  past,  and  the  idea  of 
a  Conference  proved  generally  acceptable.  His  leader  of 
March  15,  1871,  hailed  with  unqualified  satisfaction  the 
Treaty  of  London,  which  recognised  the  fait  accompli  but 
secured  an  acknowledgement  that  no  Power  could  free 
itself  from  the  obligations  of  a  Treaty  without  the  consent 
of  its  co-signatories.  "  Thus  we  are  honourably  free  from 
the  guarantee  of  a  restriction  to  which  our  predecessors  had 
pledged  us,  but  which  we  could  not  but  regard  as  impolitic 
if  not  unjust." 

The  second  half  of  Courtney's  service  under  Delane  was 
far  less  eventful,  both  at  home  and  abroad,  than  the  first. 
While  extending  a  general  support  to  the  Gladstone  Ministry, 
the  editor  allowed  his  lieutenant  to  wage  victorious  war 
against  the  Irish  University  BiU  of  1873  ;  but  that  was  the 
last  political  topic  on  which  he  took  or  desired  to  take  a 
strong  line.  The  first  two  years  of  Disraeli's  rule  were 
uneventful ;  and  when  the  crisis  in  the  Near  East  reached 
its  height  he  was  able  to  express  his  opinions  in  the  House 
of  Commons  without  editorial  supervision. 

Like  other  members  of  the  staff  of  the  Times,  Courtney 
was  frequently  called  upon  to  produce  articles  of  a  non- 
political  character  ;  and  his  wide  acquaintance  with  litera- 
ture and  art,  science  and  scholarship,  fitted  him  for  his 
exacting  task.  Among  such  contributions  were  obituary 
notices  of  celebrities  like  Faraday  and  Bulwer  Lytton, 
Whewell  and  Boole,  and  leaders  on  such  diverse  themes  as 
Tyndall's  Belfast  Address,  the  Rubens  Tercentenary,  the 
election  of  Leighton  to  the  Presidency  of  the  Royal  Academy, 


Whistler's  law-suit  against  Ruskin,  an  exhibition  of  Old 
Masters,  the  novels  of  Ouida,  and  the  death  of  Panizzi,  the 
masterful  librarian  of  the  British  Museum,  His  intimate 
knowledge  of  France  lends  peculiar  interest  to  his  character 
studies  of  such  men  as  Enfantin,  the  second  founder  of  St. 
Simonianism,  and  Prevost-Paradol,  the  most  accomplished 
publicist  of  the  Second  Empire.  It  was  a  pleasure  to  the 
hfe-long  student  of  Carlyle  to  be  entrusted  with  the  duty 
of  pronouncing  judgement  on  the  Edinburgh  Rectorial 
Address,  in  which  he  discovered  "  the  old  truths,  the  old 
platitudes  and  the  old  errors,"  but  also  a  new  and  welcome 
mellowness.  "  No  one  would  claim  for  Mr.  Gladstone  (his 
immediate  predecessor  in  the  office)  the  same  intensity  of 
power  ;  but  in  his  abundant  energy,  his  wide  sympathy 
with  popular  movement,  and  his  real  if  vague  faith  in  the 
activity  and  progress  of  modem  life,  he  conveys  lessons  of 
trust  in  the  present  and  hopefulness  for  the  future  which 
would  be  ill-exchanged  for  the  patient  and  somewhat  sad 
stoicism  of  Mr.  Carlyle."  The  last  of  his  leaders  was  a 
finely-phrased  tribute  to  George  Eliot. 

Delane  had  worked  night  and  day  since  1841,  and  as 
early  as  1875  rumours  of  his  impaired  health  began  to 
circulate  ;  but  he  was  naturally  indignant  at  groundless 
reports  of  his  intended  retirement. 

Delane  to  Dasent 

June  15,  1875. — Please  contradict  the  report  in  Vanity 
Fair  that  I  have  resigned  and  that  Courtney  is  to  succeed  me. 
Neither  is  true.^ 

The  great  renunciation,  however,  could  only  be  post- 
poned for  two  years,  and  in  1877  he  had  convinced  himself 
that  he  must  say  farewell  to  the  journal  in  which  he  had 
found  the  happiness  and  the  pride  of  his  Ufe.  "  There  was 
much  wild  speculation  as  to  Delane 's  successor,"  writes 
Alexander  Shand.  "  More  than  one  member  of  the  staff 
was  named  as  being  in  the  running,  and  gossip  insisted  with 

^  Delane' s  Life,  ii.  316. 

94  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap,  v 

great  confidence  that  the  mantle  was  to  light  on  the 
shoulders  of  a  distinguished  Government  official.  The 
knowing  ones  were  all  wrong ;  no  one  named  the  winner, 
and  the  decision  came  as  a  surprise.  One  evening  when 
dining  with  Mr.  Stebbing — ^he  had  virtually  edited  the 
paper  in  Delane's  decline — I  made  the  acquaintance  of  Mr. 
Chenery,  an  eminent  Orientalist,  Professor  of  Arabic  at 
Oxford,  and  one  of  Delane's  most  valued  collaborators. 
As  Chenery  told  me  afterwards,  '  That  evening  I  had  my 
commission  in  my  pocket.'  In  many  respects  he  was 
admirably  equipped  ;  but  he  had  taken  to  the  leadership 
too  late  in  life  and  he  could  scarcely  be  called  a  popular 
editor."  i 

Before  appointing  Chenery  the  proprietor  of  the  Times 
had  naturally  weighed  the  claims  of  other  possible  candi- 
dates for  the  post.  Mr.  Thursfield  has  kindly  contributed 
his  recollections  of  his  first  visit  to  Bearwood  in  the  autumn 
of  1877.2  "  After  telhng  me  that  Mr.  Delane  had  resigned 
and  that  Mr.  Chenery  had  been  appointed  in  his  place, 
an  appointment  which  had  been  arranged  some  months 
previously — Mr.  Walter  added,  "  Some  people  seem  to 
have  thought  that  I  should  appoint  Mr.  Courtney  to  be 
editor,  but  I  never  entertained  that  idea  myself.  He  is  a 
very  able  man,  and  he  has  done  very  good  work  for  the 
paper.  But  he  is  not  the  man  to  be  Editor  of  the  Times, 
and  I  am  fortified  in  that  opinion  by  what  I  have  seen  of 
him  in  Parliament.'  "  Courtney  himself  had  no  desire  for 
the  post,  for  his  eyes  were  turned  towards  a  Parliamentary 
career.  "  I  remember  once,  long  ago,"  wrote  John  Scott 
in  1884,  "  on  one  of  our  walks  we  talked  of  your  being 
Editor  of  the  Times.  You  said  you  would  not  have  the 
place  if  it  were  offered.  I  often  think  of  it  when  I  see  the 
Times  floundering  now.  The  abihty  is  there,  but  the  direc- 
tion seems  to  have  lost  all  insight.  It  would  have  been  a 
great  power  in  your  hands." 

^  Days  of  My  Life,  p.  201. 
'  Letter  to  the  author,  July  4,  1918. 



Throughout  life  Courtney's  favourite  relaxation  was 
foreign  travel ;  and  when  the  monthly  cheques  began  to 
arrive  from  Printing  House  Square  with  amiable  regularity 
he  felt  at  liberty  to  indulge  his  taste  on  a  more  generous 
scale.  In  1864,  the  first  autumn  of  his  affluence,  he  visited 
Brittany,  a  country  of  pecuHar  interest  to  a  Cornishman, 
and  sent  home  long  accounts  of  "  our  Breton  kinsmen." 
"  I  am  much  impressed  with  the  similarity  between  the 
Cornish  and  Breton  type  of  face,"  he  told  his  father.  "  I 
have  been  struck  with  it  again  and  again."  He  traversed 
the  country  from  end  to  end,  armed  with  fimile  Souvestre  ^ 
and  other  guides,  and  ended  with  a  brief  visit  to  Paris. 
Two  years  later  he  crossed  the  Atlantic  and  visited  the 
United  States  on  the  morrow  of  the  Civil  War.  In  1867 
his  sisters  Margaret  and  Louise  joined  him  in  a  seven 
weeks'  tour  through  France,  Switzerland  and  Northern 
Italy.  In  1868  he  paid  his  first  visit  to  Ireland.  In 
1869  he  chose  Greece  and  Constantinople  for  his  goal, 
carrying  with  him  diplomatic  introductions  supplied  by 
Lord  Clarendon  at  the  instance  of  Delane,  and  voyaging 
down  the  Danube  with  Edward  Dicey.  In  the  year  of 
the  Franco-German  War,  for  the  first  and  last  time,  he 
scorned  delights  and  lived  laborious  days.  In  1871, 
accompanied  by  his  sister  Louise,  he  travelled  by  Trier, 
the  Moselle,  Coblenz,  Nuremberg  and  Munich  to  Venice, 
Florence  and  Rome. 



To  his  Father 

Rome,  October  15,  1871. — St.  Peter's  is  disappointing.  Some 
of  the  side  aisles  have  been  closed  for  the  Council  and  have  not 
been  reopened.  The  exterior  cannot  compare  in  beauty  with 
St.  Paul's.  The  pictures  in  the  Vatican  are  very  good,  but  I 
never  much  admired  the  Transfiguration  in  engravings,  and  I 
have  not  been  converted  by  seeing  the  original.  I  much  prefer 
the  Dresden  Madonna.  Domenichino's  St.  Jerome  is  exceedingly 
clever  but  tricky.  Guido's  Aurora  is  as  beautiful  as  it  may  be 
conceived  to  be.  Raphael's  School  of  Athens  and  the  Schools 
of  Theology  are  also  wonderfully  fine.  The  Laocoon,  the  D3dng 
Gladiator,  the  Antinous,  etc.  come  up  fully  to  expectation,  and 
the  Gladiator  surpasses  it.  Christian  Rome  is  far  from  being 
so  high  in  merit  as  ancient  Rome.  Perhaps  the  most  interesting 
thing  we  have  seen  is  San  Clemente. 

The  planning  of  summer  journeys  is  a  winter  pastime  ; 
but  occasionally  the  programme  was  only  determined  on 
the  eve  of  a  holiday. 

To  his  sister  Louise 

August  2,  1872. — I  am  very  much  puzzled  where  to  go.  I 
had  thought  of  Canada  and  also  of  the  Pyrenees,  and  my  range 
is  rather  restricted  by  the  novel  circumstance  that  I  must  be 
back  some  time  before  my  lectures  begin.  My  notion  is  to  go 
by  steamer  to  Lisbon,  Gibraltar  and  Cadiz,  and  then  by  another 
steamer  in  the  Mediterranean,  making  my  way  up  through 

The  programme  was  faithfully  carried  out.  Taking 
ship  to  Gibraltar  via  Lisbon  and  Cadiz,*  he  entered  Spain 
from  the  south  and  was  soon  revelling  in  the  delights  of 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

September  i,  1872. — I  sallied  forth  immediately  to  the 
Alhambra.  The  prospect  was  glorious.  The  hiU  of  the  Al- 
hambra  was  behind,  embowered  in  trees,  poplars,  figs,  pome- 
granates, and  then  a  ravine,  on  the  other  side  of  which  is  the 
Generalife  with  ancient  cypresses  and  palms  mingled  with  the 


other  trees,  and  behind  these  hills  rose  other  hills  finally  ending 
in  the  Sierra  Nevada.  Turning  in  the  other  direction  Granada 
with  its  huge  cathedral  lay  at  my  feet,  and  opposite  on  a  smaller 
hill,  the  Moorish  suburb.  Granada  owes  not  only  the  Alhambra 
but  all  its  prosperity  to  the  Moors.  They  tapped  the  waters 
that  continually  flow  from  the  upper  snows  and,  diverting  their 
course  into  hundreds  of  different  channels,  provided  for  the 
irrigation  of  the  whole  of  the  hill  sides  and  the  great  plain  at 
the  base  of  the  city.  The  Spaniards  would  never  have  taken 
the  trouble  to  establish  this  elaborate  system  ;  but  they  have 
had  the  good  sense  to  keep  it  up.  The  Court  of  Lions  at  the 
Crystal  Palace  is  a  faithful  copy  on  a  reduced  scale  of  the  original ; 
but  it  is  only  a  chamber  of  the  whole,  and  no  art  could  reproduce 
the  surrounding  charm.  You  walk  from  hall  to  hall,  all  glorious 
within,  blue  and  gold  and  crimson,  green,  orange  and  purple, 
and  covered  over  and  over  with  delicate  curves  and  tracery, 
with  narrow  windows  and  perforated  arches,  through  which  you 
get  glimpses  of  burning  blue  skies  and  green  leaves,  which  tell 
you  how  hot  it  is  outside,  and  all  the  while  you  hear  the  murmur 
of  falling  waters.  A  place  of  vast  contentment.  Deliciae 

In  1873  he  sailed  with  his  sister  Louise  for  Canada, 
where  his  brother  Mortimer  had  made  his  home,  enjoyed 
some  interesting  conversations  with  the  Governor  General, 
Lord  Dufferin,  and  paid  a  second  visit  to  the  United  States, 
A  year  later  he  chose  Germany  for  his  autumn  manoeuvres, 
and  spent  three  quiet  weeks  at  Brunswick  working  at  the 
language,  followed  by  his  first  visit  to  the  capital. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

Berlin,  September  28,  1874. — The  city  is  full  of  big  buildings, 
but  there  is  not  one  which  excites  admiration.  It  is  also  full 
of  monuments,  to  which  additions  are  constantly  made.  The 
last  is  a  glorification  of  the  late  war,  and  if  a  Frenchman  saw 
it  he  would  say,  Sedan  est  venge.  The  BerHners  themselves 
admit  its  stupendous  ugliness.  Berlin  and  the  Berliners  con- 
tinually remind  me  of  New  York  and  the  Yankees.  There  is 
the  same  type  of  architecture  and  of  people.  I  am  sometimes 
surprised  to  hear  people  talk  German  instead  of  talking  English 
through  the  nose. 


98  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

The  French  elegance  of  Sans  Souci  appealed  to  him  far 
more  than  the  massive  Teutonism  of  the  capital.  Extending 
his  tour  eastwards  he  visited  Posen  and  Breslau,  returning 
home  through  Dresden  and  Cassel. 

The  longest  and  most  interesting  journey  of  his  Ufe  was 
made  in  the  autumn  of  1875.  Travelling  by  Venice  and 
Brindisi  he  landed  at  Alexandria,  where  he  stayed  with 
his  old  friend  and  correspondent  John  Scott,  who  had  for 
some  years  practised  in  the  Consular  Court  and  had  recently 
been  appointed  EngUsh  Appeal  Judge  in  the  International 
Court.  Accompanied  by  his  host  he  spent  a  fortnight  at 
Cairo,  where  he  cUmbed  the  Great  Pyramid  and  dined  with 
Nubar  Pasha.  A  letter  from  Calcutta  records  his  move- 
ments and  observations. 

To  J.  H.  Roby 

Calcutta,  December  28,  1875. — I  landed  at  Bombay  on 
November  4.  I  stopped  rather  more  than  a  fortnight  in  Egypt, 
and  enjoyed  my  stay  immensely.  The  Prince  of  Wales  arrived 
four  or  five  days  after  our  steamer,  and  I  saw  the  earlier  part 
of  the  festivities  in  his  honour.  Then  I  fled  and  came  to  Allaha- 
bad without  a  break.  The  railway  carriages  here  are  arranged 
for  long  journeys  so  that  travelling  is  easy  for  those  like  myself 
who  can  sleep  easily,  and  I  have  accordingly  done  a  good  deal 
of  travelling  at  night.  Agra  (including  Futtehpur  Sikkree), 
Delhi,  the  frontier  country  from  Jhelum  to  Peshawar,  Amritzar 
and  Benares  were  the  most  interesting  in  themselves  ;  but  others 
had  associations.  The  ruins  of  the  pomp  of  the  Moguls  are 
very  fine  ;  but  they  look  as  old  as  the  ruins  of  Rome,  which  are 
five  times,  or  those  of  Egypt  which  are  ten  times,  their  antiquity. 
It  has  been  a  slight  drawback  to  find  ever5rsvhere  workmen  busy 
scraping,  changing,  renovating  and  painting  by  way  of  prepara- 
tion for  the  Prince.  Fancy  the  first  vision  of  the  Taj  being  a 
gateway  covered  with  a  forest  of  bamboo  scaifolding !  I  am 
not  sure  that  this  visit  will  be  in  any  way  beneficial.  The 
Europeans  here  (those  at  least  who  are  not  overburdened  with 
the  care  and  responsibility  of  being  his  hosts)  are  pleased  with 
the  entertainments  that  accompany  the  visit  and  flock  in  crowds 
to  the  balls  and  levees,  and  the  Native  Princes  enjoy  the  oppor- 
tunity of  wearing  their  best  clothes  and  making  a  show  of  im- 
portance, though  there  have  been  sad  heart-burnings  among 


them  in  the  way  of  precedence.  The  masses  of  the  people 
beheved  at  first  that  when  the  Prince  came  they  would  have 
nothing  to  do  but  to  present  petitions  to  him  and  he  would  at 
once  cause  all  their  miseries  to  cease  ;  they  would  throw  them- 
selves in  his  way  as  he  rode  in  the  streets  and  a  word  of  his 
would  set  all  things  right.  They  are  now  better  informed,  and 
they  turn  out  in  large  numbers  to  see  fireworks  and  processions  ; 
but  the  Prince  is  an  accidental  part  of  the  show.  The  permanent 
result  will  apparently  be  nil. 

The  country  is  at  once  easy  and  difficult  to  govern.  It  is 
easy  to  govern  because,  with  the  exception  of  a  few  hiU  tribes, 
the  habit  of  mind  of  the  people  is  one  of  submissiveness  and 
they  are  quite  prepared  to  endure  despotic  command ;  but  on 
the  other  hand  they  are  very  ignorant,  very  prejudiced,  very 
distrustful  of  change  and  very  conservative,  and  if  you  try  to 
improve  things  you  find  the  task  very  difficult.  Show  a  work- 
man a  better  and  more  expeditious  way  of  doing  his  work  and 
he  may  follow  it  as  long  as  you  are  looking  on ;  but  turn  your 
back  and  he  goes  back  to  his  old  ways.  AU  this  may  of  course 
be  paralleled  at  home  ;  but  the  difficulty  here  is  that  the  govern- 
ing race  does  not  belong  to  the  same  world  as  the  governed,  and 
there  is  no  intermediate  class  to  interpret  and  popularise  the 
good  intentions  of  the  English.  All  our  regulations  and  improve- 
ments— road-making,  canal-making,  sanitary  laws — cost  money, 
and  this  evil  is  keenly  felt.  It  is  a  characteristic  fact  that  in 
order  to  provide  for  local  expenditure  octrois  have  been  estab- 
lished in  all  the  towns,  because  the  people  prefer  them  to  rates. 
They  do  not  see  how  the  octroi  works  and  willingly  agree  to 
have  it  instituted,  while  they  would  shew  a  camel-Hke  temper 
of  complaint  of  the  smallest  direct  tax.  Yet  they  are  docile, 
they  can  learn,  and  if  a  man  once  gets  their  confidence  they  take 
his  teaching  quickly  and  there  is  no  occasion  for  despair.  The 
trains  are  crowded  with  third-class  passengers,  though  they  are 
huddled  together  like  sheep.  Kerosene  oil  is  burnt  far  and  wide, 
and  I  saw  a  tailor  using  a  sewing  machine  in  Lahore.  Who  shall 
say  the  obstinacy  of  the  native  is  insuperable  ?  The  difficulties 
in  the  way  of  prejudice  and  suspicion  are  quite  as  much  on  our 
side  as  the  other. 

From  this  place  I  go  by  steamer  to  Madras  and  from  Madras 
to  Hyderabad  and  Poona.  You  would  be  delighted  with  the 
trees  of  the  North-West — they  grow  to  a  great  size  and  are 
almost  always  green  and  beautiful  in  shape.  Of  course  I  have 
had  several  new  experiences.  One  was  making  the  perambula- 
tion of  a  district  or  parish  with  a  settiement  ofi&cer.     We  were 

100  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

mounted  on  an  elephant  and  in  this  way  marched  about  the 
fields  attended  by  the  village  officials,  the  zemindar  and  stray 
peasants  who  were  cross-examined  on  crops,  produce  and  prices, 
while  the  map  we  carried  with  us  was  verified  to  see  that  every 
patch,  every  tree,  and  every  wall  was  exactly  delineated  on  it. 
Another  experience  was  two  or  three  days  spent  at  Kupparthalla, 
the  capital  of  a  small  native  state  of  that  name,  with  Lepel 
Griffin,  who  is  administrating  the  principality — the  Rajah  him- 
self being  temporarily  and  perhaps  permanently  imbecile  through 
drink  ;  so  we  have  stepped  in  to  take  care  of  his  dominions.  I 
thus  saw  how  a  Native  State  is  ruled.  Going  through  the  streets 
of  Benares,  visiting  its  temples  and  its  bazaars  under  the  guid- 
ance of  a  Brahmin,  may  be  added  as  a  third  experience.  Has 
not  Max  Miiller  said  it  was  the  dream  of  his  life  to  realise  it  ? 
But  the  Ganges  does  not  efface  the  Thames. 

Though  the  autumn  hoHday  was  the  great  event  of  the 
year,  the  Whitsun  trip  to  Paris  was  no  less  keenly  enjoyed. 
He  loved  to  visit  the  Salon,  to  revisit  the  Louvre,  to  appraise 
the  new  purchases  at  the  Luxembourg,  to  hear  the  latest 
drama  of  Sardou  or  Dumas /^s.  Versailles  and  St.  Germain, 
Fontainebleau  and  Chantilly,  never  lost  their  charm.  There 
were  debates  to  attend,  statesmen  new  and  old  to  interview, 
freetraders  to  strengthen  in  the  faith.  Last  but  not  least, 
there  was  the  incomparable  Blowitz,  the  permanent  am- 
bassador of  Printing  House  Square  to  the  French  Republic. 
On  one  occasion,  when  Courtney  was  accompanied  by  Mr. 
Stebbing  and  Chenery  was  also  making  holiday  in  Paris, 
Blowitz  asked  them  all  to  dejeuner  to  meet  Nubar,  and 
greeted  them  with  the  words,  "  The  Times  is  in  Paris." 

Courtney's  growing  prosperity  meant  not  only  longer 
holidays  for  himself  but  more  of  the  sweets  of  life  for  the 
members  of  his  family.  Birthdays  had  always  brought 
carefully  chosen  presents  and  affectionate  letters,  of  which 
the  following  is  a  specimen. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

April  15,  1874. — Ma  CHiRE  bien  Aim]ee — To-morrow  is  the 
great  day,  the  birthday  of  birthdays,  and  we  all  hail  it  as 
becomes  faithful  brothers.  I  shall  be  in  attendance  at  the 
House  of  Commons  hearing  the  Budget  and  shall  be  probably 


dining  with  Delane  afterwards  as  usual ;  but  the  great  circum- 
stance of  the  day  shall  not  be  forgot.  Yesterday  I  bought  a  little 
cadeau,  but  was  uncertain  whether  I  should  send  it  down  or 
keep  it  till  your  arrival :  James  recommends  the  latter  so  it  is 
to  be  kept  to  greet  you  with  next  week.  I  suppose  we  shall 
still  see  you  on  Friday  night.  As  to  your  journey,  the  following 
is  the  sketch  of  what  I  should  suggest.  Folkestone,  Boulogne, 
Abbeville,  Amiens,  Rouen,  Beauvais,  Paris,  Soissons,  Rheims, 
Laon,  Amiens.  I  was  down  at  Blackheath  last  Saturday,  when 
they  were  in  good  spirits ;  Mrs.  Cairnes  asking  when  you  were 
coming  up.  Leslie  Stephen  had  been  invited,  but  had  gone 
over  to  Paris  for  the  Easter  week.  Delane  spent  his  Easter 
in  Paris  and  reported  it  looking  charming.  Au  revoir,  ma  soeur 
cherie  ;  nous  vous  desirous  beaucoup.  Que  vous  ayez  beaucoup 
des  amies  and  encore  plus  de  bonheur.  Leonard. 

No  sooner  had  his  brothers  and  sister  passed  beyond  the 
need  of  his  quasi-parental  care  than  the  younger  generation 
began  to  knock  at  the  door.  The  recollections  of  his  niece, 
Sarah  Julyan,  show  that  the  services  of  the  uncle  were  as 
ungrudgingly  rendered  as  had  been  those  of  the  elder 

"  My  earliest  memories  of  Uncle  Leonard  are  intimately 
connected  with  his  Christmas  visits  to  Penzance.  Every 
member  of  the  family  looked  forward  eagerly  to  his  arrival, 
perhaps  Grandfather  most  of  all ;  to  me  there  was  even 
something  mysterious — ^in  the  earhest  days— in  an  uncle 
who  came  down  from  London  by  the  night  train  and  ap- 
peared on  the  scenes  before  breakfast.  Then  there  were 
always  appropriate  presents  for  all,  usually  something  for 
Grandfather  which  appealed  to  his  artistic  or  literary  tastes, 
perhaps  books  for  others,  and  for  myself  a  brooch,  a  locket, 
a  book  and  once  a  beautiful  pale  heliotrope  silk  dress.  I 
do  not  remember  that  he  ever  gave  me  anything  in  the 
nature  of  a  toy  or  game  but  always  something  more  enduring. 
Sometimes  during  the  Christmas  season  I  had  a  party,  and 
Uncle  Leonard  helped  to  make  it  a  happy  gathering  of  my 
friends  by  joining — and  with  much  spirit — in  the  games. 
I  pass  on  to  the  time  I  spent  at  school  in  London  from  1876 
to  1878.     Uncle  Leonard  and  Uncle  William  lived  in  Queen 

102  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chaf. 

Anne's  Gate,  and  I  spent  an  occasional  Saturday  with  them 
and  regularly  passed  my  half-term  holiday  there,  arriving 
before  dinner  on  Friday  and  being  taken  back  on  the  follow- 
ing Monday  evening.  These  short  stays  were  always 
looked  forward  to  with  pleasure  and  thoroughly  enjoyed  as 
they  flew  by.  Two  Saturday  excursions  stand  out  promin- 
ently, one  to  Epping  Forest,  the  other  across  Epsom  Downs 
to  Leith  Hill.  After  Uncle  Leonard's  late  breakfast — he 
was  engaged  nightly  at  the  Times  office — and  my  early 
lunch,  we  set  out,  taking  train  to  some  convenient  starting- 
point  and  then  beginning  a  long  tramp,  which  took  us  all 
the  afternoon,  and  ended  at  some  inn,  where  we  had  an 
early  dinner  and  then  came  back  by  train." 

Courtney's  joyous  personahty  and  warmth  of  heart  made 
him  a  favourite  with  children  outside  his  family  circle.  His 
friendship  with  John  Scott  and  his  love  of  Boswell  formed 
links  with  Birkbeck  Hill,  who  kept  a  school  at  Tottenham, 
which  was  near  enough  for  an  afternoon  visit,  Mrs.  Crump, 
the  editor  of  her  father's  letters,  has  kindly  contributed  her 
recollections  of  the  Times  thunderer  in  holiday  mood. 

"  I  cannot  date  my  early  memories  of  Lord  Courtney 
with  any  precision.  The  first  clear  picture  in  my  mind 
must  be  placed  early  in  the  'seventies.  I  see  very  clearly 
Bruce  Castle  set  in  stretches  of  smooth  lawn  and  beds  of 
briUiant  geranium.  The  old  house  shows  its  brick  through 
the  climbing  roses  in  full  flower.  Father  and  Mother  are 
out  on  the  lawn  and  we — ^perhaps  all  seven  of  us — are 
pervading  all  about,  one  a  little  boy,  with  black  hair  and 
solemn  yet  vivid  brown  eyes,  long  years  ago  dead.  Along 
the  drive  come  my  Uncle  John  Scott,  home  from  Egypt 
for  the  summer  months,  and  with  him  his  friend  Courtney 
in  brown  suit  and  buff  Unen  waistcoat.  How  clearly  I  can 
see  him  and  the  curiously  bright  eyes  under  the  thick  eye- 
brows, and  the  whimsical  smile  as  we  crowd  round.  '  Why, 
he's  all  brown,'  says  the  little  boy.  '  He's  brown-eyed 
Mr.  Courtney.'  It  was  obviously  a  link  with  himself  in  the 
child's  mind,  and  from  that  day  for  a  long  time  it  was 


'  brown-eyed  Mr.  Courtney  '  with  us  children  ;  a  playmate 
we  could  romp  with,  maybe  a  bit  outrageously  on  our  part, 
but  then  he  could  play  and  he  could  not  tease.  That  quality 
marked  him  out  in  my  mind,  a  little  girl  with  often  more 
high  spirits  than  manners  and  yet  a  keen  sensitiveness  when 
the  moment  of  excitement  passed. 

"  The  second  memory  is  rather  of  my  ears  than  of  my 
eyes,  though  I  see  too  a  scene  in  all  its  details.  It  is  in  the 
hall  of  Bruce  Castle,  a  square  hall  with  oak  stair  and  wide 
banisters  and  in  the  hall  at  the  foot  of  the  stairs  a  Sheraton 
sideboard.  Two  boys  are  astride  on  the  wide  banister  and 
I  sit  careless  on  the  sideboard.  The  manservant  and  a  maid 
pass  to  and  fro  and  the  three  bad  children  make  grabs  at 
the  dishes,  though  they  are  not  bad  enough  to  play  pirate 
till  after  the  guests  in  the  dining-room  beyond  have  eaten. 
Dinners  I  suppose  were  mainly  matters  of  business  in  my 
father's  schoolmaster  Ufe ;  an3rway  they  were  solemn  and 
I  know  bored  Father  and  Mother  ahke.  But  this  time 
eager  talk  and  quite  child-Uke  shouts  of  laughter  reached  us 
every  time  the  door  opened.  Quite  an  original  sort  of 
dinner  party  obviously,  and  it  was  strange  enough  to  live 
on  in  my  memory.  I  do  not  know  who  the  guests  aU  were, 
but  I  know  Mr.  Courtney  was  one. 

"  The  third  memory  is  wholly  and  gloriously  ridiculous, 
belonging  to  '79  or  '80.  My  Uncle  John  Scott  and  Mr. 
Courtney  came  down  to  our  new  home  in  Berkshire,  as  glad 
I  expect  to  escape  from  London  in  June  for  a  night  as  my 
Father  and  Mother  were  to  welcome  old  friends  in  what 
was  something  of  a  country  wilderness  to  them.  '  Now 
then,  Courtney,'  says  my  uncle,  '  we're  all  going  to  do  as 
we  did  in  the  train  coming  from  Cairo  to  Alexandria.     There 

was and there  (I  forget  names  but  I  think  they 

were  fellow  judges  in  the  International  Court),  and  we 
thought  we'd  welcome  the  guard.  It's  a  giant  sneeze. 
Courtney  you  take  tcha,  I'm  tche,  Maurice,  Norman,  Lucy 
tchi !  tcho  !  tchu  !  Now  then,  are  you  ready  ?  Go  !  ' 
Mother  looks  a  scrap  startled  at  the  terrific  burst.  Brown- 
eyed  Walter  shares  in  with  '  brown-eyed  Mr.  Courtney,' 
We  all  sneeze  and  shout  with  laughter. 

104  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

"  The  last  memoHy  is  the  happiest  of  all.  Mr.  Courtney 
was  I  think  quite  lately  married  and  he  was  to  bring  Mrs. 
Courtney  to  visit  us.  I  don't  think  my  parents  had  ever 
met  her.  Any  way  I  know  my  mother  was  anxious  that 
everything  should  be  '  very  nice/  and  it  was  not  so  easy 
in  our  small  and  full  house  and  with  no  great  help  in  the 
way  of  service.  So  I  recall  a  good  deal  of  preparation  and 
some  httle  anxiety.  Then  they  arrived.  On  Sunday 
afternoon  we  went  a  long  ramble,  and  all  the  way  we  grew 
madder  and  madder.  I  think  some  of  our  joy  arose  from 
our  usual  mood  when  Mr.  Courtney  came  among  us,  some 
I  think  was  pure  pleasure  in  finding  that  we  could  stiU 
prank  though  there  was  a  Mrs.  Courtney." 

A  third  vignette  is  supplied  by  Mr.  Arthur  Roby. 
"  Down  to  1875,  when  we  left  London,  there  are  constant 
entries  in  my  father's  diaries  of  Lord  Courtney  lunching 
and  dining  with  my  people  and  of  walks  and  drives  they 
took  with  him  and  of  dinners  he  gave  my  father  at  the 
Reform  Club  or  at  the  Statistical  Society,  or  to  both  my 
parents  at  the  Ship  at  Greenwich  or  elsewhere.  Here  are 
some  instances.  April  22,  1871. — '  Dined  with  Courtney 
at  the  Reform  Club.  Present  Fawcett,  Westlake,  Caimes, 
Rigby,  Jenkins  and  Ebel,  Berlin  Correspondent  of  the 
Times.'  July  22-26,  1875. — '  Courtney  took  Westlake  and 
ourselves  on  the  Thames.'  1876,  July  21-5. — '  At  Court- 
ney's invitation  we  rowed  from  Oxford  to  Teddington  ; 
the  Westlakes  with  us.'  Lord  Courtney's  laugh,  which  was 
always  so  hearty,  was  the  passport  to  our  affection  for  him 
as  children.  We  were  profoundly  impressed  with  the  fact 
that  he  had  always  an  answer  ready  for  all  our  questions, 
£ind  awed  by  the  number  of  topics  he  discussed  with  our 
parents.  But,  unlike  many  of  my  father's  friends  who  were 
not  nearly  so  able,  we  were  never  the  least  in  awe  of  Mr. 
Courtney  himself.  If  we  were  romping  when  he  came,  he 
romped  too.  We  rejoiced  to  go  walks  and  drives  with  him 
or  to  the  Zoo,  and  we  were  allowed  to  and  did  treat  him  as 
a  young  uncle,  and  when  he  came  to  dinner  parties  we 
caught  him  on  the  stairs.     He  seemed  to  understand  children. 


^and  so  was  never  solemn  to  them  or  afraid  of  losing  caste 
by  coming  down  to  their  level  in  fun  and  frolic.  Times 
beyond  number  we  used  to  go  to  his  rooms  in  Queen  Anne's 
Gate  to  get  from  him  some  tickets  or  other  source  of  pleasure 
he  had  for  us  ;  and  whenever  he  came  to  see  my  parents,  a 
visit  to  our  nursery  or  schoolroom  was  never  forgotten. 
In  later  years  it  was  to  him  I  used  to  owe  visits  to  the  House 
with  introductions  to  great  men  like  Lord  Morley,  who 
might  also  be  sitting  in  the  Strangers'  GaUery.  No  senior 
could  be  so  kind  to  a  junior  as  he  was,  his  great  abiUty  and 
knowledge  giving  itself  so  lavishly  and  simply  to  the  enter- 
tainment of  those  who  had  nothing  they  could  give  him 
in  return  except  their  gratitude  and  affection." 

While  journalism  was  his  main  occupation  and  the 
principal  source  of  his  livelihood,  Courtney  found  time  to 
continue  the  economic  studies  to  which  he  had  turned  on 
leaving  Cambridge.  In  1864  he  joined  the  Statistical 
Society,  of  which  he  was  to  be  elected  President  thirty  years 
later,  and  it  was  before  this  body  that  he  read  in  1868  a 
massive  dissertation,  "  On  the  Finances  of  the  United 
States,  1861-67,"  ^  which  may  stiU  be  consulted  as  a  record 
of  financial  errors  committed  under  the  stress  of  a  prolonged 
conflict,  Courtney's  competence  as  an  economist  was 
recognised  by  his  election  to  the  PoUtical  Economy  Club 
in  1869,  after  having  attended  two  of  its  meetings  in  1866 
as  Fawcett's  guest.  Since  its  foundation  in  1821  by  Ricardo 
the  Club  had  steadily  grown  in  influence,  enhsting  not  only 
every  professional  student  of  the  dismal  science  but  states- 
men, pubhcists  and  men  of  letters.  Among  the  sages  who  v 
gathered  round  the  dinner-table  on  Friday  evenings  Mill 
was  facile  princeps  ;  but  debates  which  were  attended  by 
Caimes,  Thornton  and  Newmarch,  Cliffe  Leslie  and  Thorold 
Rogers,  Jevons  and  Fawcett,  Bagehot  and  Greg,  Sidgwick 
and  Braniwell,  Lowe,  Dilke  and  Goschen,  Lord  Overstone 
and  Sir  John  Lubbock,  Frederic  Harrison  and  John  Morley, 
Farrer  and  Giffen,  VilUers  and  Louis  Mallet,  naturally 
reached  a  high  level  of  knowledge  and  argument.     To  join 

*  Journal  of  the  Statistical  Society,  xxxi.  164-221. 

io6  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

such  a  circle  was  a  liberal  education  for  a  young  man,  and 
for  the  half  century  which  followed  his  election  Courtney 
was  one  of  the  most  regular  attendants  as  well  as  one  of  the 
weightiest  debaters.  He  was  chosen  Secretary  in  1873, 
Giffen  being  appointed  Joint  Secretary  in  1881.  "  Even 
then,"  writes  Frederic  Harrison  of  his  own  election  in  1876, 
"  Leonard  Courtney  was  recognised  as  the  heir  of  Mill's 
economic  authority,"  ^  "It  has  been  my  high  privilege 
for  a  good  many  years  to  be  a  member  of  the  PoUtical 
Economy  Club,"  he  declared  in  1888.  "  We  meet  together 
once  a  month  during  the  season.  There  are  forty-five 
ordinary  members,  and  we  have  some  honorary  members, 
for  instance,  members  who  become  Cabinet  Ministers — 
almost  every  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  has  been  a 
member  of  the  Club — and  holders  of  professorial  chairs. 
We  sit  down  on  an  average  perhaps  a  score.  We  do  not 
stand  up.  The  man  who  introduces  a  subject  explains  it 
for  some  half  an  hour,  and  then  it  is  carried  from  person  to 
person.  That  is  the  quiet  business-like  way  of  proceeding. 
I  would  recommend  you  to  avoid  all  pubUcity  if  you  would 
pursue  a  serious  discussion  of  any  economic  question."  ^ 

Courtney's  wide  range  of  knowledge  was  recognised  by 
his  appointment  as  examiner  in  Hterature  and  history  for 
the  Indian  Civil  Service  in  1867-68,  and  in  constitutional 
history  in  the  University  of  London  in  1872-75.  He  wrote 
the  important  article  on  "  Banking  "  for  the  Ninth  Edition  of 
the  Encyclopaedia  Britannica,  and  in  1872  he  obtained  the 
Chair  of  Pohtical  Economy  in  the  University  of  London, 
The  post  was  of  less  distinction  than  that  which  he  had 
sought  at  Cambridge,  but  its  duties  could  be  combined 
with  his  work  on  the  Times.  He  held  the  Chair  for  three 
years,  resigning  it  when  he  started  on  his  voyage  to  India. 
He  was  so  well  acquainted  with  the  classics  of  his  science 
that  the  preparation  of  his  course  made  no  very  exacting 
demands  on  his  time.  The  Historical  School,  which  under 
the    leadership    of    Roscher    was    beginning   to    dominate 

1  Autobiographic  Memoirs,  ii.  92-3. 

*  From  an  Address  on  the  Occupation  of  Land  to  the  Political  Economy 
Circle  of  the  National  Liberal  Club. 


Germany,  had  not  yet  struck  root  in  England,  and  the  new 
Professor  was  content  to  expound  the  doctrines  of  Adam 
Smith  and  Ricardo,  Mill  and  Caimes.  His  subject  for  the 
first  year  was  the  Principles  of  PoUtical  Economy,  for  the 
second.  Wages,  and  for  the  third.  Taxation.^ 

To  his  sister  Louise 

November  13,  1874. — I  was  very  busy  about  my  evening 
lecture  yesterday,  so  that  I  could  not  conveniently  write.  I 
have  now  delivered  three,  or  a  fourth  of  the  course.  The  class 
is  smaller  than  it  was  last  year,  and  there  are  only  two  ladies 
attending,  which  is  a  great  falling  off.  The  number  altogether 
is  about  the  same  as  it  was  two  years  ago. 

Following  the  example  of  his  colleagues  Croom  Robertson 
and  Carey  Foster,  the  Professor  of  Political  Economy  invited 
women  to  attend  his  classes.  "  I  still  remember  what  great 
gratitude  we  all  felt  to  such  a  pioneer  on  women's  behalf," 
writes  Mrs.  Hancock.  "  There  were  only  a  few  girls  among 
a  large  class  of  men  ;  and  many  were  the  prophecies  that 
we  should  meet  with  rudeness  and  discourtesy.  But  I 
found  them  very  poUte,  and  many  were  the  offers  to  sharpen 
my  pencil  and  lend  me  notes." 

Courtney  beheved  not  only  that  political  economy  was 
a  science,  but  that  it  afforded  invaluable  guidance  in  the 
conduct  of  public  affairs.  He  scornfully  repudiated  the 
doctrine  that  the  State  could  make  men  happy  and  prosper- 
ous, preferring  to  emphasise  the  danger  to  personal  indepen- 
dence and  responsibihty  from  its  well-meant  attentions. 
He  rebuked  the  facile  optimism  which  forgot  the  hmits 
within  which  men  and  nations  are  compelled  by  natural 
laws  to  work  out  their  destiny.  If  his  poUtical  teaching 
was  the  gospel  of  Independence,  his  economic  message  was 
the  gospel  of  Self-Help.  In  both  domains  he  raised  the 
standard  of  a  lofty  and  almost  stoical  individuahsm,  and 
kept  it  proudly  flying  tiU  the  day  of  his  death.  Two  lectures 
deUvered  to  the  Mechanics'  Institute  at  Pl5anouth  in  the 
later  'seventies  reveal  his  economic  convictions  and  appre- 

^  Information  kindly  supplied  by  the  Secretary  of  University  College. 

io8  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

hensions  at  the  time  of  his  entry  into  political  life.  In  the 
first,  "  The  Migration  of  Centres  of  Industrial  Energy,"  ^ 
he  discussed  the  perplexing  problem  whether  the  hfe  of 
nations  is  subject  to  the  same  limitations  as  the  Ufe  of  men, 
in  other  words  whether  the  stock  of  national  vitaUty  in- 
evitably becomes  exhausted.  The  rise  and  fall  of  empires 
seems  to  indicate  some  such  biological  law  ;  but  we  pass 
beyond  the  region  of  hj^othesis  in  tracing  the  cycles  of 
industrial  growth  and  decay.  A  rapid  survey  of  the  com- 
mercial fortunes  of  mediaeval  Italy,  Flanders,  Holland  and 
England  exhibits  industry  passing  from  nation  to  nation, 
and  proves  that  in  each  case  supremacy  rests  upon  transi- 
tory conditions.  Within  our  own  country  the  centre  of 
industry  shifts  from  district  to  district,  and  the  tide  of 
emigration  prepares  us  for  a  large  transfer  of  industrial 
energy  from  our  own  to  other  lands.  If  our  coal  deposits 
are  as  limited  as  Professor  Jevons  calculates,  we  must 
prepare  ourselves  for  a  shrinkage  of  industry  and  a  sterner 
struggle  for  existence.  "  I  trust,"  he  concludes,  "  that  the 
spirit  of  wisdom  may  lead  this  nation  through  the  trials  in 
store  for  it ;  and  I  say  this  the  more  fervently  because  I 
cannot  disguise  from  myself  the  conviction  that  this  century 
can  scarcely  pass  away  without  some  of  them  being  experi- 
enced." "  The  facts  are  for  the  greater  part  well  known," 
wrote  Professor  Marshall  in  1918,  "  but  it  is  a  monumental 
array  of  warnings  that  a  nation  with  but  narrow  natural 
resources  must  not  rely  in  ease  on  the  memories  of  the  past." 
The  second  address,  entitled  "  A  Fair  Day's  Wages  for  a 
Fair  Day's  Work,"  ^  analyses  the  meaning  of  a  fair-sounding 
but  ambiguous  phrase.  "  A  fair  day's  wages  "  means  a 
fair  amount  of  what  money  will  buy,  and  varies  with  prices 
and  with  customary  wants.  Chinese  and  English  labourers, 
for  instance,  working  in  the  same  town  and  receiving 
different  pay,  may  both  obtain  a  fair  wage.  "  A  fair  day's 
work  "  is  a  much  simpler  conception,  merely  involving  that 
the  work  must  be  useful  and  conscientiously  performed. 
Passing  further  afield  the  lecturer  explodes  the  vulgar  errors 

^  Published  in  the  Fortnightly  Review,  December  1878. 
*  Published  in  the  Fortnightly  Review,  Maxch  1879. 


that  workmen  benefit  by  "  making  "  work,  and  suffer  by 
imports  from  abroad.  The  real  danger  to  British  industry 
arises  from  much  deeper  causes.  Resuming  the  thread  of 
his  previous  discourse,  he  warns  his  hearers  of  the  possible 
shrinkage  of  our  natural  resources,  and  bids  them  prepare 
for  recurring  depressions  and  growing  emigration.  The 
population  that  can  be  sustained  at  any  given  time  is 
limited  by  a  variety  of  causes,  some  of  which  are  wholly 
or  partially  beyond  our  control.  The  address  closes  on  a 
note  of  rebuke  to  the  irresponsible  complacency  of  his 
contemporaries.  "  Forty  years  ago  people  pursued,^  their 
thought  to  its  conclusion,  however  disagreeable  it  might 
be.  You  might  as  well  hope  to  build  a  house  in  disregard 
of  the  law  of  gravitation  as  to  secure  social  well-being  in  a 
community  where  the  principle  of  population  is  treated  as 
of  no  account.  To  preach  personal  or  class  responsibility 
is  not  a  passport  to  favours,  and  a  democratic  franchise 
exposes  public  men  to  increasing  temptation  to  suppress 
unpopular  truths.  Much  yet  remains  to  be  done  to  improve 
the  condition  of  the  people  by  the  reform  of  our  laws,  above 
all  those  relating  to  land  ;  but  if  all  that  could  be  suggested 
were  accomplished,  it  would  still  remain  with  the  people 
themselves  to  determine  their  own  condition."  ^ 

Courtney's  connection  with  the  Times  never  debarred 
him  from  active  co-operation  with  men  of  more  advanced 
views  than  Delane.  When  Fawcett  entered  Parliament  in 
1865  he  founded  a  Radical  group,  of  which  Mill  was  the 
principal  ornament.^  The  group  developed  into  a  Club  in 
1870,  with  Dilke,  who  had  entered  Parliament  in  1868,  as 
Secretary.  Among  the  members  were  Mill,  Hare,  Fawcett^ 
Cairnes,  John  Morley,  Lord  Edmund  Fitzmaurice,  Courtney,. 
Leslie  Stephen,  Henry  Sidgwick,  Torrens  and  Frank  Hill, 
the  editor  of  the  Daily  News.  From  this  platform  Mill 
propounded  in  1870  his  views  on  land,  and  at  the  inaugural 
public  meeting  of  the  Land  Tenure  Association  in  1870  Sir 
Charles  for  the  first  time  promulgated  the  doctrine  of  the 

^  "  Much  has  been  learnt  since  he  wrote,"  writes  Professor  Marshall  ; 
"  but  nearly  every  one  may  still  profit  by  some  shrewd  observation." 
*  L.  Stephen,  Life  of  Fawcett,  p.  286. 

no  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

"  unearned  increment."  Not  long  after  its  foundation,  in 
Dilke's  words,  "  it  dropped  very  much  into  the  hands  of 
Fawcett,  Fitzmaurice  and  myself."  ^  In  1880  Dilke  took 
office  and  was  succeeded  in  the  Secretaryship  by  his  brother 
Ashton,  with  whose  death  in  1883  it  came  to  an  end.  The 
Club  exerted  a  considerable  influence  in  the  'seventies 
owing  to  the  conspicuous  abiUties  of  some  of  its  members, 
and  helped  to  prepare  the  transformation  of  a  predominantly 
Whig  party  into  an  army  of  Liberals  and  Radicals.  "  I 
first  met  Mr.  Courtney,"  writes  Lord  Fitzmaurice,  "  through 
Mr.  Fawcett  and  other  members  of  the  Radical  Club,  which 
consisted  of  Members  of  ParUament  and  non-members  in 
about  equal  proportions.  The  Club  as  a  rule  dined  in 
London,  and  when  we  broke  up  I  often  used  to  walk  with 
Courtney  to  Westminster  Bridge.  Thence,  in  those  early 
days,  he  used  to  make  his  way  to  Blackfriars,  to  the  Times 
office.  I  remember  that  what  immediately  struck  me  most 
about  him  was  his  immense  strength,  both  mental  and 
physical,  which  nothing  seemed  able  to  tire,  and  his  great 
independence  of  judgment,  in  which  he  resembled  Mr. 
Fawcett.  All  his  friends  were  naturally  very  anxious  to 
see  him  in  Parhament,  and  expected  great  things  of  him." 

Both  in  the  Radical  Club  and  the  PoUtical  Economy 
Club  Courtney  was  thrown  into  frequent  contact  with 
Fawcett,  whose  career,  no  less  than  opinions,  had  been  in 
many  respects  similar  to  his  own.  The  elder  Fawcett,  hke 
the  elder  Courtney,  would  never  have  thought  of  sending 
his  son  to  the  University ;  but  the  boy's  mathematical 
abiUties  were  so  marked  that  the  Dean  of  Sahsbury  solemnly 
pronounced  that  he  ought  to  go  to  Cambridge.  Peterhouse 
was  chosen  as  a  coUege  where  Fellowships  were  tenable  by 
la5nnen,  and  Fawcett  entered  in  1852,  a  year  after  Courtney, 
rising,  Uke  him,  from  a  "  pensioner  "  to  a  "  scholar."  He 
was  seventh  wrangler  in  1856,  and  in  the  same  year  was 
elected  FeUow  of  Trinity  Hall,  whither  he  had  migrated 
when  he  found  too  many  competitors  at  Peterhouse.  Though 
he  read  diligently  he  knew  that  he  had  no  chance  of  being 
Senior  Wrangler,  and  therefore  felt  at  Hberty  to  give  free 

*  Gwynn  ajod  Tuckwell,  Life  oj  Sir  Charles  Dilke,  i.  160. 


rein  to  his  passion  for  politics.  He  spoke  frequently  at  the 
Union,  where  he  wrestled  with  such  budding  orators  as 
Montagu  Butler,  John  Gorst  and  Gully.  Having  resolved 
as  a  boy  that  he  would  one  day  enter  Parliament  he  migrated 
to  London  after  taking  his  degree,  and  read  for  the  Bar, 
paying  frequent  visits  to  the  House  of  Commons.  Return- 
ing to  Cambridge  two  years  later  after  losing  his  sight,  his 
unflagging  activity  soon  made  him  a  prominent  figure  in 
the  University  and  beyond.  His  election  to  the  Chair  of 
PoUtical  Economy  in  1863  was  the  reward  of  his  Manual 
and  of  his  friendship  with  Mill.  Returned  to  Parliament 
as  Member  for  Brighton  in  1865  he  rapidly  won  the  ear  of 
the  House,  and  established  his  position  as  an  Independent 

Courtney  and  Fawcett  had  never  met  as  undergraduates, 
and  they  were  probably  unknown  to  each  other  tiU  they 
stood  as  rival  candidates  for  the  Professorship.  It  was  not 
till  the  one  was  in  Parliament  and  the  other  anchored  in 
Printing  House  Square  that  their  intimacy  began  ;  but  it 
quickly  ripened  into  close  and  fruitful  association.  Both 
were  disciples  of  Mill  and  friends  of  Cairnes.  Both  were 
ardent  champions  of  minority  representation.  Both  had 
been  uncompromising  supporters  of  the  cause  of  the  North 
in  the  American  Civil  War.  Both  were  professional  students 
of  political  economy,  finance  and  statistics.  Both  were 
Philosophic  Radicals,  pledged  to  laissez-faire,  free  trade, 
religious  liberty,  and  women's  suffrage.  Finally,  both  were 
of  the  Cambridge  school,  interpreting  life  in  terms  of  prose, 
not  poetry,  loving  precise  statement  and  clear  thinking, 
and  caring  nothing  for  theology  and  metaphysics.  If 
Cairnes  was  Courtney's  first  intimate  friend  among  the 
leaders  of  thought,  Fawcett  was  his  first  ally  among  men  of 
action  ;  and  the  three  men  formed  a  working  alliance  which 
was  not  without  influence  on  EngUsh  history. 

Cairnes  had  left  Galway  on  his  appointment  to  the  Chair 
of  Political  Economy  at  University  College,  London ;  but 
an  accident  to  his  leg  brought  on  a  disease  which  slowly 
crippled  him,  compelled  him  to  withdraw  from  academic 
work  and  finally  killed  him.     He  pitched  his  tent  at  Black- 

112  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

heath,  partly  in  order  to  be  a  neighbour  of  Mill,  who  would 
walk  beside  his  bath-chair  so  long  as  he  was  well  enough  to 
go  out.  When  he  became  a  hopeless  invalid,  unable  to 
stand  or  even  to  move,  Fawcett  and  Courtney  paid  frequent 
visits  to  his  house,  where  the  triumvirate  discussed  not  only 
problems  of  poUtical  economy,  but  every  phase  of  public 
affairs.  His  mind  was  unaffected,  and  his  authority  steadily 
increased.  After  the  death  of  Mill  in  1873  few  would  have 
challenged  Fawcett 's  tribute  to  Cairnes  as  "  the  leading 
economist  of  the  day,  second  only  in  power,  originality  and 
clearness  of  expression  to  his  friend  and  master."  "  In  the 
midst  of  aU  engagements,"  writes  LesUe  Stephen,  "  Fawcett 
was  constantly  running  down  to  his  friend's  house,  cheering 
him  by  his  conversation,  doing  all  he  could  to  spread  his 
reputation,  encouraging  him  to  collect  and  repubhsh  his 
essays,  bringing  down  any  one  whom  he  thought  likely  to 
be  an  amusing  companion,  and  taking  counsel  with  him  on 
the  poUtical  measures  in  which  they  were  both  interested. 
Cairnes's  vigorous  intellect  made  the  congenial  alliance 
profitable  to  both  parties.  During  Fawcett's  Parliamentary 
career  Cairnes,  so  long  as  he  lived,  was  one  of  his  most 
intimate  advisers,  whilst  Leonard  Courtney  made  a  third 
in  their  friendly  union."  ^ 

The  triple  alhance  co-operated  most  effectively  in 
defeating  the  Irish  University  Bill  of  1873.  At  Galway 
Cairnes  had  imbibed  an  undying  hostility  to  the  claim  of 
the  Roman  Church  to  control  education  in  Ireland,  and, 
though  in  Fawcett's  words  "  a  thorough  Liberal,"  he 
believed  that  the  defeat  of  Gladstone  would  be  a  lesser  evil 
than  the  surrender  of  higher  education  to  an  Ultramontane 
priesthood.  In  1S66,  in  an  article  on  "  The  Irish  University," 
he  had  stoutly  defended  mixed  education,  and  expressed  a 
wish  for  the  retention  of  the  Queen's  Colleges  even  if  it  was 
determined  to  create  a  "  mediaeval  University."  When 
the  attempt  was  renewed  towards  the  close  of  Gladstone's 
first  Ministry  he  returned  to  the  charge  in  an  article  entitled 
"  The  Irish  University  Question."  ^    The  BiU  was  stoutly 

1  Fawcett's  Life,  pp.  200-201. 
•  Both  reprinted  in  his  Political  Essays,  1873. 


contested  by  Fawcett  in  Parliament,  who  launched  the 
thunderbolts  forged  in  the  arsenal  at  Blackheath.  The 
third  member  of  the  triumvirate,  entrenched  in  Printing 
House  Square,  contributed  his  share  to  the  defeat  of  the 
measure,  and  to  the  subsequent  passage  of  Fawcett's  Bill 
for  the  abolition  of  tests  in  Trinity  College,  Dublin. 

Though  they  could  scarcely  desire  his  cruel  sufferings  to 
be  prolonged,  Caimes's  death  was  a  blow  to  his  friends,  who 
paid  warm  tributes  to  his  memory.  "No  man  was  better 
informed  than  he  of  the  course  of  poUtical  events,"  wrote 
Fawcett  in  the  Fortnightly  Review}  "  and  no  one  was  a 
safer  guide  as  a  practical  politician.  He  possessed  charm, 
vivacity  and  humour  in  conjunction  that  made  all  his 
friends  look  forward  to  their  visits  to  him  as  one  of  their 
greatest  pleasures.  When  any  of  his  friends  heard  a  good 
story  probably  the  first  thing  they  thought  of  was,  '  How 
Caimes  wiU  enjoy  it ! '  It  used  to  be  proverbial  among  us 
that,  laughing  with  him  over  some  joke  or  hearing  him  tell 
some  amusing  story,  we  often  lingered  so  long  that  we 
generally  had  to  run  to  the  station  and  not  unfrequently 
missed  the  last  train." 

Courtney  had  enjoyed  his  visits  as  much  as  Fawcett, 
and  marvelled  at  the  contrast  between  the  cheerful  serenity 
and  the  physical  sufferings  of  their  host. 

To  his  sister  Louise 

August  1872. — On  Sunday  I  went  down  to  see  Caimes,  whom 
I  had  not  seen  for  a  fortnight.  He  was  looking  terribly  ill. 
His  eyes  were  sunk  and  his  hands  thinner  than  ever.  I  shall 
try  to  go  down  again  next  Sunday. 

The  fine  obituary  notice  in  the  Times  was  from  his  pen.^ 
"  He  was  the  most  powerful  and  exact  of  our  recent  Political 
Economists.  The  colunms  of  a  daily  journal  are  lU-fitted 
to  receive  the  impressions  of  social  intercourse  ;  and  the 
memorials  of  his  admirable  humour  and  of  conversational 
gifts,  at  once  charming  and  instructive,  must  be  preserved 
for  his  family  and  friends.     They  will  treasure  the  memory 

*  August  1875.  2  July  9_  1875. 


114  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

of  a  private  life  of  rare  elevation,  and  the  few  who  have  been 
privileged  to  resort  to  his  suburban  home  wUl  long  miss  the 
interchange  of  thought  and  feeling  which  made  it  so  attrac- 
tive." He  praises  his  Leading  Principles  as  good  hard 
reading,  to  be  studied  not  skimmed,  and  better  understood 
after  several  readings  than  after  one.  "  He  was  the  unseen 
centre  of  the  operations  that  exposed  the  character  of  the 
University  Bill  in  1873  and  destroyed  it,  for  he  had  seen 
the  success  of  united  education  at  Galway.  Its  strongest 
opponents  in  Parhament  and  the  Press  were  inspired  by  his 
knowledge  and  counsel."  ^ 

On  the  eve  of  his  entering  ParUament  in  1876  Courtney 
set  forth  his  views  on  the  manufacture,  expression  and 
authority  of  public  opinion  in  an  article  entitled  "  PoUtical 
Machinery  and  PoHtical  Life,"  pubUshed  in  the  July  number 
of  the  Fortnightly  Review.  The  election  of  1874,  he  begins, 
showed  the  electorate  to  be  opposed  to  the  retention  of 
Gladstone,  but  gave  httle  if  any  indication  what  measures 
it  desired.  In  any  case  it  cannot  as  a  rule  pronounce  a 
verdict  on  more  than  one  question  at  a  time.  Moreover, 
pubHc  opinion,  or  the  voice  of  the  majority,  if  we  closely 
scrutinise  the  methods  of  its  manufacture,  ought  to  carry 
but  Httle  weight.  Most  voters  take  their  opinions  ready- 
made  from  their  landlord,  their  church,  or  the  leader  of 
their  party  ;  and  independent  thinking  is  as  rare  among 
candidates  as  among  constituents.  "  The  first  condition 
of  success  is  that  each  candidate  shall  be  clearly  identified 
with  the  poUcy  of  the  party  he  seeks  to  attract.  He  must 
support  the  Ministry  unreservedly,  or  he  must  go  with  the 
Opposition.  But  the  balance  of  victory  constantly  rests 
with  those  electors  who  are  not  enrolled  under  either  banner. 
The  hovering  and  doubtful  voters  are  far  from  always 
being  venal.  They  are  cautious,  lukewarm,  cold-blooded 
creatures,  sceptical  of  professions,  and  in  some  instances 
disdainful  of  political  hfe.  Whoever  tries  to  win  them 
must  strive  to  take  the  colour  out  of  his  opinions.  He  soon 
perceives  the  advantages  of  practising  an  economy  of  revela- 

^  Courtney  was  Cairnes's  executor,  and  was  for  years  the  friend  and 
adviser  of  his  widow. 


tion  ;  but  this  is  extremely  difficult  except  where  there  is 
nothing  to  reveal.  All  the  influences  which  prevail  among 
us  to  repress  the  development  of  opinion  are  brought  into 
strongest  operation  at  the  time  of  a  general  election.  The 
best  candidate  is  the  man  who  is  not  troubled  with  thoughts 
of  anything  beyond  the  programme  of  his  party.  The 
conditions  thus  limiting  the  choice  of  candidates  necessarily 
affect  the  character  of  the  House  of  Commons,  and  tend  to 
make  it  a  chamber  of  mediocrity.  There  are  persons  who 
regard  this  result  with  satisfaction.  They  tell  us  that  what 
is  wanted  in  the  Legislature  is  not  a  multiplication  of 
Mr.  Burke  but  of  men  who  are  content  to  say  ditto  to  Mr. 
Burke.  I  am,  however,  prepared  to  uphold  the  paradox 
that  the  most  important  function  of  the  House  of  Commons 
is  not  that  of  legislation  but  of  discussion."  Parliament 
should  be  the  educator ;  for  the  press  tends  to  follow  its 
lead,  popularising  the  ideas  that  have  found  a  foothold 
within  its  walls. 

What  is  the  remedy  for  this  artificial  stimulation  of 
mediocrity,  this  systematic  sterilisation  of  originality  ?  In 
answering  the  question  the  author  reveals  the  purpose  for 
which  the  article  was  written.  "  I  look  for  something  like 
a  regeneration  of  pohtical  hfe  through  the  gradual  trans- 
formation of  our  electoral  system  according  to  the  prin- 
ciples of  Mr.  Hare.  Instead  of  compelUng  voters  to  bring 
themselves  down  to  a  common  level  in  the  hope  of  forming 
part  of  a  majority,  I  would  allow  them  to  associate  together 
freely  according  to  their  opinions  in  groups,  obtaining 
representatives  according  to  their  numbers.  The  immediate 
adoption  of  Mr.  Hare's  system  I  neither  expect  nor  desire  ; 
but  its  introduction  within  the  limited  areas  of  our  great 
towns  and  more  populous  counties  may  be  anticipated 
without  extravagance  of  thought  in  the  lifetime  of  the 
new  generation.  Our  present  system  operates  to  Hmit  the 
quantity  and  worsen  the  quality  of  life  in  every  division. 
Why  should  we  not  adopt  the  "regime  of  liberty  instead  of 
the  regime  of  constriction  ?  If  a  voter  is  to  have  the  power 
to  which  he  is  entitled  he  must  have  freedom  of  choice  ; 
and  he  can  only  have  freedom  of  choice  when  the  single- 

ii6  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

member  constituency  disappears.  If  it  is  urged  that  the 
representation  of  minorities  may  cheat  the  majority  of  its 
rightful  power,  the  answer  is  that  with  single-member  con- 
stituencies a  majority  in  the  Legislature  may  be  returned 
by  a  minority  in  the  country.  The  majority  may  vote 
down  minorities  if  they  will  first  hear  what  they  have  to 
say.  The  demand  for  the  extension  of  household  suffrage 
to  the  counties  will  not  long  be  resisted,  and  its  concession 
must  be  accompanied  by  a  redistribution  of  electoral  power. 
Any  one  who  examines  the  institutions  about  us  by  the 
Hght  of  the  principles  and  thoughts  that  daily  gain  force 
among  men  must  find  httle  comfort  or  trust  in  their  per- 
manence. We  are  compassed  about  with  so  much  that 
must  pass  away,  we  struggle  to  the  injury  of  our  freedom 
and  health  under  the  weight  of  so  much  that  is  dead  and 
must  be  shuffled  off ;  and  yet  the  strain  and  the  labour 
of  their  removal  threaten  to  be  so  great  that  we  are  often 
tempted  to  think  that  without  a  revolution  the  changes 
that  are  inevitable  cannot  be  accomplished.  The  trans- 
formation of  our  representative  system  appears  to  me  to 
open  up  a  way  to  the  accompHshment  of  the  changes  we  fore- 
see without  resort  to  passion  and  to  violence.  If  we  make 
the  governing  assembly  a  mirror  of  the  life  of  the  people, 
the  leaven  of  change  wiU  work  gradually  in  the  one  as  in 
the  other." 

Courtney  had  often  expressed  these  views  in  the  Times 
or  in  the  Radical  Club  ;  but  they  appeared  for  the  first 
time  above  his  signature  in  this  article,  which  drew  a  warm 
commendation  from  the  Editor. 

From  John  Morley 

June  22,  1876. — Your  article  interests  me  enormously — 
though  my  mind  halts  this  side  of  your  conclusion.  The  first 
dozen  pages  strike  me  as  masterly.  The  silently  directing 
power  of  Parliament  over  public  opinion  has  never  been  so  set 
forth — to  the  best  of  my  knowledge.  I  will  not  trouble  you 
with  a  manuscript  discussion,  because  I  hope  to  examine  your 
position  in  print  before  many  weeks  are  over.  At  this  moment 
I  am  not  quite  sure  where  the  point  of  divergence  is  exactly 


to  be  found.  You  make  the  plan  more  persuasive  than  usual, 
partly  because  you  write  like  a  practical  politician — which  Mill 
and  Hare  do  not.  Chamberlain  has  been  very  unwell ;  he  is 
now  refreshing  his  brain  at  Llangollen  in  preparation  for  Tuesday's 
meeting.  If  Horsman  would  only  be  kind  enough  to  vacate 
Liskeard,  then  things  would  happen  that  would  make  me  think 
better  of  the  House  of  Commons  than  I  do  now.  However,  all 
in  good  time,  I  suppose,  and  one  at  once. 

The  two  men  had  come  to  London  in  the  later  'fifties 
to  seek  their  fortune,  but  it  was  not  tiU  several  years  later 
that  they  formed  the  friendship  that  lasted  unbroken  for 
nearly  half  a  century.  Their  common  veneration  for  Mill, 
their  common  friendship  for  Caimes  and  Fawcett,  LesUe 
Stephen  and  Frederic  Harrison  and  many  another  standard- 
bearer  in  the  army  of  progress,  their  individualism  and  their 
hatred  of  ImperiaHsm  drew  them  together.  The  younger 
man  declined  to  enlist  under  the  banner  of  Proportional 
Representation ;  but  on  other  issues  they  were  agreed, 
and  Courtney  was  a  welcome  recruit  to  the  band  of  advanced 
thinkers  who,  under  the  guidance  of  its  brilliant  editor, 
made  the  Fortnightly  a  cardinal  factor  in  the  poUtical  and 
intellectual  education  of  the  third  quarter  of  the  century. 
Modem  radicalism  as  a  Parliamentary  force  was  bom  in 
the  'sixties  and  'seventies  when  Fawcett  and  Dilke,  Chamber- 
lain and  Morley,  Trevelyan  and  Wilfrid  Lawson  declared 
war  on  the  Whigs ;  and  Courtney,  though  temperamentally 
somewhat  more  conservative,  supported  his  friends  in  most 
of  their  enterprises  and  was  regarded  by  them  as  a  member 
of  the  General  Staff.  "  At  his  first  dinner  with  me  in 
London,"  writes  Lord  Morley  in  recording  his  early  friend- 
ship with  Chamberlain,  "  I  made  him  acquainted  with  three 
men  of  note,  Fawcett,  Courtney  and  Harrison."  ^  The  date 
is  not  given  ;  but  as  the  historic  partnership  began  in  1873 
it  can  hardly  have  been  later  than  1874.  Chamberlain, 
however,  never  became  an  intimate  friend  like  Fawcett  and 
Morley;  for  the  founder  of  the  caucus  was  separated  by 
a  deep  gulf  from  the  sworn  foe  of  machine  politics.  The 
two  men  were  destined  to  enter  ParKament  in  the  same 

^  Recollections,  i.  157. 

ii8  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap,  vi 

year,  to  co-operate  first  in  the  triumph  and  then  in  the 
defeat  of  Gladstonian  ideas,  and  finally  to  lead  the  opposing 
armies  which  wrestled  for  the  soul  of  England  at  the  close 
of  the  nineteenth  century. 

By  the  middle  of  the  'seventies  Courtney  had  become  a 
famihar  figure  not  only  in  Liberal  circles  but  in  the  poUtical 
and  social  hfe  of  London  ;  and  his  experiences  were  duly 
recorded  in  frequent  letters  to  Penzance. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

July  20,  1876. — I  dined  yesterday  at  Lord  Harrowby's  ;  the 
dinner  was  very  good,  the  people  pleasant,  and  powdered  foot- 
men moved  about  the  room  in  almost  too  great  numbers.  Old 
Lord  Harrowby  wore  his  star  and  ribbon  of  the  Garter,  and  he 
reminded  me  after  dinner  that  it  was  at  a  Cabinet  dinner  in  the 
same  house  in  his  father's  time  that  the  Cato  Street  conspiracy 
proposed  to  blow  up  the  Ministry  ;  also  that  the  Waterloo  dis- 
patches were  brought  by  Lord  Percy  and  read  from  the  top  of 
the  stairs  to  people  pouring  into  the  hall.  The  Chiswick  party 
went  off  very  well.  We  passed  through  the  hall  of  the  cottage 
out  to  the  garden  on  the  other  side  where  the  Prince  and  Princess 
stood  under  a  shady  tree  and  the  guests  bowed  on  being  pre- 
sented and  passed  on.  Among  the  people  I  saw  and  had  talks 
with  were  Cardinal  Manning,  who  introduced  me  to  Archbishop 
Howard,  KnoUys,  the  Prince's  secretary,  Charley  Beresford, 
Russell,  Oliphant,  Vernon  Harcourt,  Salar  Jung,  Lord  Napier 
of  Magdala,  the  Mallets,  Lord  Houghton  and  daughter,  Woolner, 
Sir  Bartle  Frere,  Birdwood  of  the  Indian  Museum,  etc.  The 
Morocco  Ambassadors  were  there,  making  a  very  fine  show. 

It  was  generally  expected  that  Courtney  would  enter 
Parliament  as  soon  as  opportimity  arose ;  and  it  was 
universally  agreed  that  he  possessed  unusual  quaUfications 
for  pubHc  hfe.  His  wide  knowledge  and  grasp  of  detail, 
his  travels  and  his  academic  studies,  his  long  apprenticeship 
under  Delane,  above  all  his  powerful  mind  and  independent 
character  marked  him  out  for  a  leading  part  on  the  stage 
which  he  had  so  often  surveyed  from  the  gallery  with 
critical  eye  and  tinghng  pulse. 



"  When  in  1874  Leonard  first  contested  Liskeard,"  writes 
his  sister  Mrs,  Oliver,  "  his  effort  to  enter  Parliament 
seemed  a  matter  of  course.  It  was  not  that  I  can  recollect 
ever  hearing  him  talk  of  his  intention  to  become  a  member 
of  the  House  of  Commons ;  but  one  knew  that  his  work, 
his  study  of  political  questions  and  institutions,  his  travels, 
his  incHnations  all  tended  in  that  direction.  Devoted  to 
his  native  county  it  was  natural  that  he  should  desire  to 
be  one  of  its  members." 

The  Gladstone  Government  had  been  tripped  up  in  1873 
on  its  Irish  University  scheme,  but  had  recovered  its  breath 
and  still  possessed  a  working  majority.  Though  its  energies 
were  exhausted,  and  DisraeU  was  not  without  justification 
in  describing  the  occupants  of  the  Treasury  Bench  as  a  row 
of  extinct  volcanoes,  the  country  was  startled  in  the  follow- 
ing year  by  the  news  that  the  Prime  Minister  had  dissolved 
Parliament.  The  Cornish  seats  were  already  provided  with 
Liberal  champions  ;  but  at  the  last  moment  the  candidate 
for  Liskeard  accepted  an  offer  to  contest  Leicester,  and  left 
a  vacancy  that  required  to  be  promptly  filled.  How 
Courtney  flung  himself  into  the  breach  was  related  by  him 
to  his  constituents  several  years  later.  "  Though  I  was 
practically  unknown  in  Liskeard,  Liskeard  was  not  unknown 
to  me.  From  boyhood  it  had  been  to  me  full  of  interest. 
I  could  remember  several  of  the  contests  in  which  Charles 
BuUer  was  a  candidate.  Later  on  I  heard  of  all  that  he 
had  done  in  London  and  what  hopes  were  buried  with  him 


120  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

in  his  premature  tomb.  It  was  therefore  with  no  ordinary 
feeling  of  emotion  that  the  possibility  of  coming  to  Lis- 
keard  seemed  to  open  up.  It  was  in  a  small  room  in  the 
office  of  the  Times,  about  half-past  one  in  the  morning, 
when  I  was  engaged  in  writing  a  leading  article,  that  one 
of  the  boys  who  would  come  in  from  time  to  time  bringing 
'  flimsy '  containing  new  inteUigence,  brought  in  a  message 
stating  that  Mr.  McArthur  had  retired  from  Liskeard.  I 
went  on  writing,  and  put  the  information  aside  till  I  had 
finished.  Then  I  began  to  think.  Shall  I  go  down  there  ? 
I  left  the  office  about  2.30  and  walked  along  the  Embank- 
ment to  the  Temple,  and  then  I  determined  I  would  come 
down.  I  went  back  to  my  esteemed  friend  Mr.  Delane  and 
told  him  my  decision.  The  following  day,  having  opened 
up  communication  with  Liskeard,  I  telegraphed, '  I  will  come 
down  by  mail  train  to-night,'  " 

In  the  rush  of  an  unexpected  General  Election  indivi- 
duals are  lost  in  the  crowd  ;  but  the  Spectator,  in  deploring 
the  absence  of  able  candidates,  directed  the  attention  of  its 
readers  to  one  marked  exception.  "  Mr.  Leonard  Courtney 
has  had  the  courage  to  beard  Mr.  Horsman  in  Liskeard. 
Though  Uttle  known  out  of  London  he  is  known  in  it  as  a 
man  who,  if  he  can  hit  the  temper  of  the  House  of  Commons, 
will  rise  fast  and  far."  There  seemed,  however,  to  be 
httle  more  than  a  sporting  chance,  for  he  was  unknown  in 
the  constituency,  and  he  had  only  ten  days  allowed  him  to 
woo  the  electors.  The  sitting  member  elegantly  described 
his  antagonist  as  "  the  Times  reporter,"  and  complained 
that  he  had  arrived  in  the  borough  hke  a  thief  in  the  night ; 
but  he  was  glad  to  be  opposed  by  a  new-comer,  and  the 
veteran  campaigner  looked  forward  to  an  easy  victory. 

Edward  Horsman,  a  miniature  Roebuck,  was  a  prominent 
if  eccentric  ParUamentary  figure  for  forty  years.  ^  He  had 
held  office  as  Chief  Secretary  for  Ireland  under  Palmerston 
from  1855  to  1857,  resigning  it  on  the  ground  that  there 
was  "  not  enough  work  to  be  done,"  and  preferring  in 
future  the  career  of  a  free  lance.  He  joined  Lowe  in  opposi- 
tion to  the  Reform  Bill  of  1866,  and  indeed  Bright  ascribed 

^  See  Sir  Henry  Lucy,  Men  and  Manner  in  Parliament,  pp.  123-7. 


Lowe's  hostility  to  his  influence.  He  was  depicted  retiring 
"  into  what  may  be  called  his  poHtical  Cave  of  Adullam,  to 
which  he  invited  every  one  who  was  in  distress  and  every 
one  who  was  discontented."  Bright's  phrase  made  its 
fortune,  though  nobody  now  remembers  the  name  of  the 
first  Adullamite.  He  declared  himself  to  be  "in  favour 
of  steady  but  not  precipitate  progress  "  ;  but  his  notion 
of  precipitancy  may  be  judged  by  the  fact  that  he  opposed 
every  extension  of  the  franchise  during  his  long  member- 
ship of  the  House.  He  drifted  ever  further  away  from  his 
party,  and  in  1869,  when  he  stood  for  Liskeard,  he  was 
unsuccessfully  opposed  by  an  orthodox  follower  of  Glad- 
stone, to  whom  he  was  a  thorn  in  the  flesh  throughout  the 
ParHament  of  1868.  At  the  next  election  he  was  opposed 
by  Courtney,  but  held  the  seat  by  334  votes  to  329.  The 
disappointment  was  not  very  severe,  as  the  pendulum 
swung  to  the  Conservative  side  throughout  the  country; 
and  the  Liberal  candidate  was,  in  his  own  words,  "  im- 
known,  unexpected,  uninvited," 

Courtney  expected  victory  neither  for  himself  nor  for 
his  party.  Its  leader  had  gone  to  the  country  without  a 
programme,  and  offered  no  particular  inducement  to  re- 
formers to  rally  to  his  support.  Under  the  circumstances  the 
Liskeard  figures  were  a  moral  triumph,  and  his  friends  shared 
his  conviction  that  the  next  appeal  would  not  be  in  vain. 

From  John  Scott 

Alexandria,  March  4. — Need  I  say  I  was  very  sorry  the 
Liskeard  people  just  failed  to  do  the  country  good  service  ? 
It  is  sad  to  think  that  the  addition  of  three  men  of  sense  would 
have  made  the  difference.  However  your  turn  will  come,  and 
I  shall  still  be  able  to  drink  to  the  health  of  my  friend  the  member 
as  I  had  intended  to  do  a  fortnight  ago.  I  looked  in  vain  for  a 
report  of  the  statesmanlike  speeches.  But- 1  have  a  high  opinion 
of  the  spectator's  insight  since  it  put  you  forward  as  one  of  the 
men  of  intellect  whom  the  country  should  delight  to  honour, 

Horsman  had  a  genius  for  quarrelling,  and  it  was  only 
natural  that  the  irascible  Scotsman  should  fall  foul  of  his 
antagonist.     Speaking  in  Liskeard  soon  after  the  election 

122  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

he  denounced  him  in  unmeasured  terms,  concluding  with 
the  terrible  indictment,  "  the  truth  is  not  in  him."  He 
was  at  once  challenged  to  substantiate  the  charge.  Mr. 
Courtney,  he  rejoined,  had  declared  that  he  had  come  to 
Liskeard  without  invitation  or  communication  ;  but  he, 
the  speaker,  had  seen  a  telegram  in  which  he  had  announced 
himself.  The  reply  was  a  mere  quibble,  for  the  telegram 
merely  stated  that  he  was  about  to  present  himself  to  the 
electors.  The  controversy  was  fought  out  in  the  Times, 
and  for  nearly  a  fortnight  the  Member  for  Liskeard  gave 
demonstrations  in  the  art  of  invective.  "  A  collection  of 
the  phrases  and  epithets  he  has  applied  to  me,"  wrote  the 
defeated  candidate,  "  from  the  first  moment  I  ventured  to 
appear  as  his  opponent,  would  be  a  curiosity  in  the  Utera- 
ture  of  vituperation."  But  Horsman's  ways  were  well 
known,  and  it  was  no  discredit  to  any  man  to  be  the  object 
of  his  strident  rebukes.  Courtney  found  no  lack  of  sym- 
pathy within  the  precincts  of  Printing  House  Square  ;  for 
Delane  himself  had  been  truculently  attacked  in  past  years 
for  his  supposed  servihty  to  Palmerston.  Even  Lowe,  his 
old  bed-fellow  in  the  Cave  of  Adullam,  roundly  condemned 
Horsman's  conduct  as  "  quite  inexcusable." 

The  Liberal  citizens  of  Liskeard  shared  Lowe's  view  of 
the  controversy,  and  a  week  or  two  later  Courtney  received 
a  requisition  signed  by  a  majority  of  the  registered  electors 
to  visit  the  borough.  Accordingly  on  March  31  he  deHvered 
an  address.  After  the  defeat  of  the  previous  year,  he  began, 
he  believed  that  a  few  years  in  Opposition  would  be  useful 
for  the  Liberal  Party  as  a  time  of  education,  and  that  the 
Tories  might  perform  some  useful  work  ;  but  he  had  been 
sadly  disappointed.  Gladstone  had  earned  his  repose,  but 
he  hoped  and  beheved  that  he  would  resume  the  leadership. 
A  reform  of  county  government  was  urgently  required,  and 
Gladstone  alone  could  grapple  with  it.  Another  important 
question  which  ought  not  to  be  shirked  on  account  of  its 
immense  difficulties  was  the  disestablishment  and  disendow- 
ment  of  the  EngHsh  Church.  The  franchise  must  be  extended, 
and,  what  was  of  still  greater  importance,  the  single-member 
constituency  must  yield  to  a  larger  unit  in  the  interests  of 


fair  representation.  These  and  other  reforms  should  be 
adopted  by  the  party ;  and  he  had  no  desire  to  see  the 
Liberals  back  in  office  till  they  were  prepared  with  a  con- 
structive programme.  The  speaker  was  forthwith  adopted 
as  prospective  Liberal  candidate  at  the  next  General 
Election  ;  but  the  period  of  waiting  was  to  be  shorter  than 
he  had  any  right  to  expect.  At  the  end  of  1876  Horsman's 
stormy  career  came  to  an  end,  and  Courtney  offered  himself 
for  a  second  time  to  the  electors  of  Liskeard,  not  unreason- 
ably confident  of  success. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

Liskeard,  December  3. — I  telegraphed  to  Will  yesterday  a 
message  which  you  possibly  received  at  dinner.  This  opponent 
is  Lieut. -Colonel  John  Sterling,  second  or  younger  son  of  John^ 
Sterling  and  son-in-law  of  Sir  John  Trelawny,  a  fact  he  states 
in  a  little  circular  he  has  issued.  Sir  John  has  no  influence 
here  ;  he  once  stood  for  the  place  and  was  beaten,  and  so  far 
this  opposition  does  not  seem  dangerous,  though  it  would  be 
pleasanter  to  have  a  walk  over.  All  my  friends  appear  to  be 
very  staunch  ;  at  all  events  the  leaders  are,  and  I  suppose  when 
they  are  the  rest  will  be. 

On  December  22  the  Liberal  candidate  was  elected  by 
388  to  281 — the  largest  number  of  votes  ever  cast  in  Lis- 
keard— and  took  his  seat  at  the  opening  of  the  session  of 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

February  9,  1877. — You  will  have  seen  I  took  my  seat  yester- 
day— my  introducers  being  Edmund  Fitzmaurice  and  Mundella. 
There  was  a  great  crowd  in  the  House  of  Lords  to  see  Lord 
Beaconsfield  ;  the  ladies  in  the  galleries  laughed  when  he  and 
his  introducers  sat  down  on  the  Earls'  bench  and  put  on  their 
cocked  hats  and  took  them  off  again.  I  expect  we  shall  be 
ha\dng  a  great  debate  in  the  House  of  Commons  on  the  Eastern 
question  in  about  a  fortnight.  There  was  a  meeting  of  the 
Liberal  chiefs  on  Wednesday  and  they  resolved  to  show  fight, 
the  Duke  of  Argyll  insisting  upon  it. 

"  When  Courtney  was  elected,"  wrote  Justin  M'Carthy, 
"  I  remember  having  a  talk  with  an  experienced  Member  of 

124  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

the  House  who  set  himself  up  as  an  authority  on  all  poUtical 
questions,  '  Mark  my  words,'  he  said  to  me  with  an  air  of 
portentous  wisdom,  '  he  will  be  a  dead  failure  in  the  House 
of  Commons.'  I  did  mark  his  words,  and  Courtney  was  not 
a  dead  failure,  but  a  very  Uve  success."  ^  When  the  new 
member  for  Liskeard  entered  the  House  of  Commons  it  had 
lost  its  leader ;  for  DisraeH  had  crossed  the  lobby  at  the 
close  of  the  previous  session.  The  new  leader  of  the  House, 
Stafford  Northcote,  was  notable  for  character  rather  than 
abihty,  and  his  lieutenants  were  capable  but  not  briUiant. 
The  Liberal  AchiUes  had  retired  to  his  tent,  whence  he 
emerged  at  intervals ;  and  the  Opposition  followed  the  un- 
selfish but  rather  drowsy  leadership  of  Lord  Hartington. 
The  most  active  section  of  the  Liberal  party  was  Radical, 
not  Whig,  and  it  was  from  such  men  as  Fawcett  and  Dilke, 
Trevelyan  and  Wilfrid  Lawson  that  the  most  effective 
criticism  of  the  Government  was  heard.  To  this  group, 
reinforced  as  it  was  by  the  recent  arrival  of  Joseph  Chamber- 
lain, Courtney  attached  himself.  His  frequent  attendance 
at  debates  had  made  him  familiar  with  Parliamentary  forms, 
and  the  stage  fright  which  daunts  the  new  member  was 
entirely  lacking.  He  was,  moreover,  trained  by  long  years 
of  joumaUsm  to  clear  statement  and  to  all  the  arts  of 
argument  and  analysis  ;  and  within  a  week  of  taking  his 
seat  he  had  deUvered  his  maiden  speech. 

Courtney  chose  for  his  plunge  the  main  political  topic  of 
the  session,  the  Eastern  Question,  on  which  the  Li'^eral 
party  was  not  unanimous.  While  Hartington  and  Forster 
shared  to  some  extent  the  Russophobia  of  the  Government, 
Gladstone,  deeply  stirred  by  the  Bulgarian  atrocities, 
emerged  from  his  retirement  and  proclaimed  in  ringing 
tones  the  poUcy  of  "  bag  and  baggage."  His  pamphlet  on 
Bulgarian  Horrors,  published  in  the  autumn  of  1876,  sold 
by  tens  of  thousands,  and  his  oratorical  campaign  aroused 
extraordinary  enthusiasm.  The  Prime  Minister,  on  the 
other  hand,  dismissed  the  tales  of  Turkish  devilry  as  coffee- 

^  Reminiscences,  ii.  p.  369.  In  his  History  of  Our  Own  Times,  i88o-i8gy, 
p.  154.  the  forecast  is  ascribed  to  a  "  writer  in  a  very  influential  London 


house  babble,  and  was  far  more  interested  in  checkmating 
Russia  than  in  emancipating  the  Balkan  Christians.  Lord 
Salisbury  had  been  sent  to  take  part  in  a  Conference  at 
Constantinople  ;  but  his  mission  was  doomed  to  failure, 
since  the  Porte  knew  that  his  recommendations  would  never 
be  enforced  so  long  as  Beaconsfield  was  at  the  helm.  In 
the  debate  on  the  Address  Gladstone  raised  the  Turkish 
policy  of  the  Government,  taking  as  his  text  the  reference 
in  a  recent  despatch  to  "  our  treaty  engagements  with 
Turkey."  His  denial  of  the  existence  of  such  engagements 
to  assist  Turkey  against  Russia  was  emphatically  reiterated 
by  the  member  for  Liskeard.  We  were  under  obligations 
to  the  Guaranteeing  Powers,  he  maintained,  but  not  to 
Turkey  ;  nor  did  the  Treaty  of  1856  place  Turkey  under 
obligations  to  us.  We  agreed  to  respect  her  integrity  and 
independence  in  order  to  ensure  the  peace  of  Europe,  not  to 
defend  her  against  the  consequences  of  her  own  misrule. 
The  power  of  counsel  and  warning  employed  at  the  recent 
Conference  of  Constantinople  was  derived  not  from  treaty 
but  from  the  public  law  of  Europe  ;  for  the  community  of 
States  possessed  an  inherent  right  to  prevent  any  of  their 
number  from  becoming  a  danger  to  the  peace  of  the  world. 
We  must  have  freedom  to  deal  with  the  problems  of  the 
Near  East  as  they  arose,  and  neither  friendship  with  Turkey 
nor  fear  of  Russia  ought  to  prevent  us  from  alleviating  the 
cruel  lot  of  the  Christian  subjects  of  the  Sultan. 

It  was  a  strong  Gladstonian  utterance,  carefuUy  pre- 
pared and  delivered  with  obvious  conviction,  "  I  well 
remember  Mr.  Courtney's  advent  in  the  House  of  Commons," 
writes  Mr.  Burt,  "  two  years  after  I  had  become  a  member. 
He  was  already  weU  known  to  many  members.  To  have 
won  a  great  outside  reputation  does  not  always  help  a 
member  to  the  esteem  of  the  House.  Indeed  he  is  listened 
to  more  critically  than  would  be  an  ordinary  debutant. 
Moreover,  the  House  has  its  own  standard  of  measurement 
and  makes  its  own  estimates  without  regard  to  the  ante- 
cedents of  the  new-comer.  Of  his  maiden  speech  I  have  a 
clear  recollection.  I  was  sitting  near  to  him  at  the  time 
of  its  delivery.     On  such  an  occasion  the  House  is  always 

126  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

indulgent  to  a  new  member.  Even  to  a  practised  speaker 
his  maiden  speech  is  something  of  an  ordeal.  Mr.  Courtney 
in  truth  needed  no  special  indulgence.  He  was  never,  I 
should  think,  a  timid  man,  never  lacked  self-confidence, 
and  I  distinctly  remember  that  the  speech  was  dehvered 
with  complete  self-possession  and  with  great  effect.  In 
substance,  in  arrangement,  in  phrasing  and  in  deUvery  it 
could  not  have  been  bettered.  A  few  months  earlier  I  had 
been  privileged  to  hear  Mr.  Chamberlain's  maiden  speech, 
which,  needless  to  say,  was  a  complete  success.  When  he 
concluded,  a  member  sitting  beside  me  said,  '  That  speech 
is  Uke  a  good  leading  article.'  That  remark  was  meant  to 
be,  and  was  really,  a  compUment,  impl5dng  that  it  was 
more  perfect  in  form  and  in  phrasing  than  impromptu 
utterances  are  wont  to  be.  On  Mr,  Courtney's  maiden 
speech  the  same  verdict  might  have  been  given." 

Mr.  Burt's  description  is  confirmed  by  a  report  from  the 
Press  Gallery.  1  "  The  speech  was  made  at  an  hour  when 
the  House  was  very  thin,  and  it  was  therefore  in  a  manner 
thrown  away.  Many  members  would  have  come  eagerly 
in  if  they  had  known  it  was  coming  off  just  then.  Is  it  a 
good  or  a  bad  omen  for  the  futiu^e  of  a  political  debater 
when  his  first  speech  is  made  with  perfect  ease  and  self- 
possession  ?  Mr.  Courtney  was  as  easy  and  self-possessed 
as  if  he  had  been  addressing  the  House  once  or  twice  a  night 
for  the  last  twenty  sessions.  It  was  an  excellent  piece  of 
argument,  somewhat  fine-drawn,  delivered  in  a  clear,  strong 
voice,  and  was  not  without  a  certain  dignity  of  effect.  But 
it  was  a  little  too  professorial  for  the  general  style  of  the 
House  of  Commons." 

The  speaker  himself  was  fairly  satisfied  with  his  own 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

February  17. — You  at  home  will  like  to  hear  something  of 
my  maiden  speech  last  night.  It  was  begun  in  a  very  thin 
House  as  Bob  Montagu  had  sent  everybody  away,  but  a  fair 
number  came  in  from  the  Lobbies  and  some  very  good  men 
were  there.  Northcote  and  Bourke  on  the  Treasury  Bench, 
*  The  Examiner,  February  24,  1878. 


and  on  our  side  Gladstone,  Hartington,  Lowe,  Forster,  Goschen, 
Childers,  Harcourt,  besides  the  stragglers  below  the  gangway. 
I  spoke  rather  too  quickly  and  with  too  much  condensation, 
but  I  believe  I  made  my  meaning  clear  and  commanded  atten- 
tion. The  matter  was  substantial,  though  the  art  might  have 
been  better.  I  was  a  good  deal  congratulated  at  the  close  with 
a  warmth  of  approval  that  showed  I  had  accomplished  some- 
thing more  than  a  succes  d'estime.  On  the  whole  I  am  not 
dissatisfied  with  the  beginning  ;  the  performance  will  give  me 
some  reputation  as  tolerably  long-headed,  and  enthusiasm  will 
come  later  on.     The  Daily  News  refers  to  the  speech  in  its  leader. 

A  few  days  later  he  met  the  real,  if  not  the  titular,  leader 
of  his  party. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

March  i. — I  dined  last  Friday  in  a  very  small,  quiet,  family 
sort  of  gathering  at  Sir  Walter  James's  in  Whitehall  Gardens. 
His  son,  who  is  in  the  House  (member  for  Gateshead),  asked  me 
in  the  afternoon  to  come  if  I  was  not  engaged,  sa3dng  that  Glad- 
stone was  coming.  It  appears  that  Gladstone  is  accustomed  to 
drop  in  there  in  a  quiet  way.  We  were  in  *all  ten  or  twelve  ; 
Sir  Walter  and  Lady  James,  Walter  James  and  his  wife,  Glad- 
stone and  Mrs.  Gladstone  and  niece  and  two  or  three  others  ; 
an  oval  table  and  conversation  general  and  agreeable. 

His  opinions  on  the  Eastern  Question  were  expounded 
in  greater  detail  in  a  long  article  which  occupied  the  place 
of  honour  in  the  May  number  of  the  Fortnightly  Review. 
The  policy  which  has  for  its  object  the  conservation  of  the 
Ottoman  Empire,  he  begins,  and  discourages  with  the  whole 
influence  of  England  every  suggestion  tending  towards  its 
dissolution,  is  erroneous  in  its  conception  and  mischievous 
in  its  consequences  ;  and  the  policy  which  favours  its 
gradual  dismemberment  and  disintegration,  and  would 
approve  and  support  the  employment  of  the  allied  force  of 
Europe  in  setting  this  process  in  motion,  is  wise  and  bene- 
ficial. In  a  word  generosity  and  statesmanship  concur  in 
recommending  the  piecemeal  dissolution  of  the  Ottoman 
rule.  A  brief  glance  at  the  history  of  the  Near  East  reveals 
the  ebbing  of  the  Turkish  tide,  and  the  further  contraction 
of  the  Empire  is  inevitable.    The  Turks  remain  a  conquering 

128  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

tribe,  lacking  the  faculty  of  incorporating  the  races  it  holds 
in  subjection,  and  their  numbers  have  thus  diminished 
under  the  strain  of  war.  If  their  dominion  is  thus  destined 
to  further  disintegration,  the  only  question  is  whether  the 
next  step  should  be  taken  at  the  present  moment  or  deferred. 
To  answer  this  question  we  must  glance  at  the  States  which 
have  been  liberated  from  the  yoke — Hungary,  Greece, 
Roumania,  Serbia.  Though  Greece  has  disappointed  certain 
expectations,  no  one  can  travel  from  Constantinople  to 
Athens  without  feeling  that  he  has  exchanged  a  decaying 
for  a  growing  world.  Compare  again  the  condition  of  the 
peasantry  on  the  Roumanian  and  the  Bulgarian  side  of  the 
Danube.  Remember  the  continual  revolts  in  Bosnia  and 
Crete  against  intolerable  conditions.  Every  step  in  the 
progress  of  dismemberment  has  been  a  step  forward,  and 
the  Crimean  War  was  a  crazy  attempt  to  arrest  what  ought 
to  have  been  faciUtated.  At  that  time  England  was  not 
alone  in  her  mistaken  poHcy ;  but,  while  other  States  have 
come  to  recognise  the  necessity  of  a  further  contraction, 
the  British  Government  has  stood  alone  in  its  dogged  resolve 
to  resist  every  Mmitation  of  independence  and  every  in- 
vasion of  the  integrity  of  the  Ottoman  Empire.  Our 
resistance  has  prevented  the  changes  that  are  so  urgently 
needed  and  that  might  have  been  peacefully  secured  by  a 
united  Europe.  It  is  pitiable  to  read  the  Crimean  prophecies 
of  the  approaching  regeneration  of  Turkey,  for  her  dissolu- 
tion is  a  fore-ordained  result  of  unalterable  causes. 

The  real  ground  for  the  action  of  the  British  Government 
is  not  love  of  Turkey,  but  fear  of  Russia.  The  Government 
of  Russia  is  corrupt,  despotic  and  aggressive  ;  but  her  record 
as  an  emancipator  of  the  Christian  subjects  of  the  Turk  is 
not  without  honour,  and  travellers  report  an  outburst  of 
S5anpathy  among  the  masses  unstained  by  territorial  greed. 
Such  a  mood  provides  a  precious  lever  for  international  co- 
operation in  the  task  of  humanity.  Austria  has  neither 
a  desire  for  change  nor  a  desire  to  prevent  it,  and  a  bold 
appeal  to  Bismarck  might  have  avoided  the  danger  of  iso- 
lated action  by  Russia,  left  Turkey  without  a  friend  in 
Europe,  and  compelled  her  to  surrender  at  discretion.    The 


British  Government,  however,  has  committed  every  possible 
mistake.  It  has  indirectly  encouraged  Turkey  to  refuse 
reform,  rejected  every  proposal  from  Russia  for  inter- 
national pressure,  failed  to  keep  the  peace,  and  even  rendered 
possible  a  European  conflagration.  Yet  even  now  it  is  not 
too  late  to  mend.  If  we  proclaimed  that  we  had  abandoned 
the  vain  policy  of  maintaining  the  independence  and  in- 
tegrity of  the  Ottoman  Empire,  and  were  bent  on  co-operat- 
ing with  the  other  Powers  in  raising  under  European  tutelage 
a  confederation  of  free  States  out  of  its  ruins,  we  should  at 
last  be  doing  something  to  redeem  the  past. 

It  was  a  ringing  challenge  to  Disraeli's  Russophobe  and 
Turcophil  policy.  Its  wisdom  was  to  be  shown  by  Lord 
Sahsbury's  tragic  admission  twenty  years  later  that  we  had 
put  our  money  on  the  wrong  horse,  and  forty  years  later 
by  our  union  with  Russia  against  the  corrupt  and  effete 
Power  that  had  been  kept  on  its  legs  by  the  blunders  of 
British  statesmen.  The  Opposition,  however,  was  too 
divided  to  take  vigorous  action  against  the  Government, 
and  shirked  a  debate  which  would  reveal  their  weakness. 
After  the  Easter  recess,  however,  Gladstone  determined  to 
intervene,  and  gave  notice  of  four  Resolutions,  censuring 
the  Bulgarian  massacres  ;  declaring  Turkey  to  have  lost  the 
right  to  British  assistance,  moral  or  material ;  demanding 
local  self-government  in  the  disturbed  territories ;  and 
urging  Great  Britain  to  join  the  Powers  in  extorting  guaran- 
tees for  humanity  and  justice.  These  Resolutions,  mild  as 
they  were,  proved  too  strong  meat  for  the  digestion  of 
Hartington  and  Forster,  and  the  third  and  fourth  were 
reluctantly  sacrificed  to  secure  united  Liberal  support. 
The  attack  was  launched  on  May  7  in  a  speech  of  lofty 
eloquence  and  appeal ;  but  the  avowed  differences  of  the 
Opposition  leaders  took  the  heart  out  of  the  debate,  and 
gave  the  Government  an  easy  victory. 

This  exhibition  of  organised  impotence  was  warmly 
resented  by  the  Radical  wing,  led  by  Fawcett,  Chamberlain 
and  Courtney.  Resuming  the  debate  on  the  third  day  the 
member  for  Liskeard  sharply  denounced  the  action  of  the 
Government  and  the  inaction  of  the  Opposition.     He  had 

130  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

heard  "  with  consternation  and  bewilderment  "  that  the 
third  and  fourth  Resolutions  had  been  dropped  ;  for  the 
first  and  second  were  so  generally  accepted  that  they  were 
hardly  worth  a  discussion.  Who  would  deny  that  the 
House  disapproved  the  Bulgarian  massacres  or  that  Turkey 
had  thereby  lost  all  claim  to  our  material  or  moral  support  ? 
It  was  said  that  the  unanimity  of  the  Liberal  party  has  been 
secured  by  it.  No  one  could  be  more  deeply  desirous  for 
such  unanimity  ;  but  though  it  might  have  a  single  voice, 
it  was  not  a  voice  that  expressed  a  mind  or  a  will.  "  The 
present  position  of  the  party,  resembling  too  faithfully  the 
European  Concert,  is  that  of  a  Greek  chorus  which  utters 
moral  sentiments  at  intervals  without  affecting  in  any  way 
the  action  of  the  play."  The  Home  Secretary  observed  that 
no  member  had  ventured  to  recommend  coercion.  "  In 
the  most  unequivocal  manner  I  am  prepared  to  recommend 
the  employment  of  force."  One  poUcy  was  that  of  main- 
taining the  status  quo  of  the  Ottoman  Empire.  A  wiser 
course  was  to  assist  in  its  gradual  dismemberment.  Such 
a  course  involved  the  possibility  of  war.  But,  as  the 
Powers  would  act  together,  it  would  only  be  a  nominal 
coercion,  as  when  half  a  dozen  pohcemen  teU  a  rough  that 
if  he  resists  they  will  have  to  use  their  truncheons  on  him. 
Our  true  model  was  Canning.  His  convictions  dated  not 
from  the  Bulgarian  atrocities,  but  from  the  Crimean  War, 
and  the  experience  of  every  subsequent  year  had  only 
served  to  confirm  them. 

The  speech  was  praised  by  Mr.  ChapUn,  an  opponent, 
as  a  manly  and  straightforward  avowal  of  poUcy,  and  was 
repeatedly  mentioned  during  the  remainder  of  the  long 
debate.  "  Mr.  Courtney's  speech,"  wrote  the  London 
Correspondent  of  the  Western  Morning  News,  "  wiU  secure 
for  him  in  the  opinion  of  the  House  of  Commons  that  high 
position  as  a  speaker  which  those  who  knew  him  personally 
were  persuaded  he  ought  to  occupy.  Until  this  week 
circumstances  have  been  rather  against  him,  and  he  has 
scarcely  had  an  opportunity  to  do  himself  justice  ;  but 
yesterday's  speech  was  worthy  of  his  article  in  the  Fort- 
nightly, which  was  the  best  written  contribution  to  the 


literature  of  the  Eastern  Question  since  Mr.  Gladstone's 
pamphlet.  It  was  indeed  almost  the  best  that  has  been 
dehvered  on  the  Resolutions.  There  was  no  finer  passage 
in  all  the  present  debate  than  the  vindication  of  Russia  to 
which  the  interruptions  of  his  opponents  spurred  him." 

In  denouncing  the  Turkophil  tendencies  of  the  Prime 
Minister  the  member  for  Liskeard  was  following  the  lead 
of  Gladstone,  and  was  supported  by  influential  members 
of  his  party  ;  but  in  opposing  the  South  African  policy  of 
the  Government  he  stood  almost  alone.  The  annexation 
of  the  Transvaal  in  the  spring  of  1877  was  regarded  in  most 
Liberal  circles  with  dislike  as  a  new  illustration  of  Disraehan 
Imperialism  ;  but  its  causes  and  probable  consequences 
were  studied  by  few.  From  the  first  Courtney  raised  his 
voice  against  an  act  which  appeared  to  him  unjustifiable  in 
itself  and  fraught  with  menace  to  British  interests.  In 
speaking  on  Gladstone's  Resolutions,  he  expressed  his 
astonishment  at  the  strange  contrast  between  the  timidity 
of  Ministers  in  Turkey  and  their  rashness  in  another  quarter 
of  the  globe.  "  The  Government  has  just  annexed  an 
independent  Republic  in  South  Africa.  It  may  be  said  that 
it  wiU  involve  no  risk  ;  but  to  that  I  reply.  Wait  tiU  the  end. 
That  act,  without  any  justification  of  policy  or  principle, 
exposes  the  country  to  greater  peril  of  war  than  my  sugges- 
tions for  the  coercion  of  Turkey." 

The  annexation  of  the  Transvaal  was  only  part  of  the 
poKcy  of  Lord  Carnarvon,  the  Colonial  Secretary,  who  was 
anxious  to  see  South  Africa  follow  the  Canadian  model. 
On  the  second  reading  of  the  South  African  Federation  Bill 
on  July  9  the  Under  Secretary  for  the  Colonies,  Mr.  Lowther, 
defended  the  annexation.  The  white  population,  he 
declared,  was  40,000,  who  were  confronted  by  a  million 
blacks.  When  war  broke  out  with  the  natives  the  Transvaal 
had  been  repeatedly  warned  by  the  British  Government, 
The  defeat  of  the  Boer  forces  opened  up  the  prospect  of  a 
general  native  revolt.  Sir  Theophilus  Shepstone  had  been 
sent  to  Pretoria  to  explain  the  danger  to  the  British  colonists 
and  to  take  measures  for  their  security.  Though  the 
President  and  other  members  of  the  Government  had  pro- 

132  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

tested  against  the  proposed  change,  the  Republic  had  been 
annexed,  and  the  British  Cabinet  had  approved  the  step. 
The  country  was  healthy  and  rich  in  minerals,  and  once 
delivered  from  native  dangers  and  financial  difficulties  he 
anticipated  for  it  a  happy  future. 

The  rejection  of  the  Bill  was  moved  by  Courtney  in  a 
speech  of  earnest  warning.  He  pointed  out  that  the  Cana- 
dian Bill  of  1867  was  the  work  of  the  Canadians  themselves, 
whereas  the  present  plan  of  federation  was  the  child  of 
Downing  Street.  Its  main  object  was  to  recover  territories 
which  we  had  deUberately  resigned.  The  annexation  of  the 
Transvaal  was  defended  on  the  plea  of  danger  from  the 
natives.  But  we  had  refrained  from  annexing  the  Orange 
Free  State,  which  was  conterminous  with  Natal  and  Cape 
Colony,  despite  its  four  years'  war  with  the  Basutos  ;  and 
it  was  now  peaceful  and  prosperous.  If  the  Transvaal  had 
been  left  in  peace  it  too  would  have  developed  its  resources, 
and  in  time  would  probably  have  entered  into  free  union 
with  the  British  Colonies.  This  happy  prospect  had  been 
frustrated  by  Sir  Theophilus  Shepstone,  "  dressed  in  a  Uttle 
brief  authority,"  and  by  Lord  Carnarvon's  envoy,  Mr. 
Froude.  The  Colonial  Secretary  had  urged  confederation 
before  informing  himself  whether  it  would  be  acceptable ; 
and  his  precipitancy  was  resented  in  both  the  Dutch  and 
British  colonies.  The  fear  of  war  spreading  in  South  Africa 
was  advanced  as  a  reason  for  the  Bill ;  but  the  danger  was 
over  before  Shepstone  arrived.  He  had  been  instructed  to 
obtain  the  consent  of  the  people  and  the  concmrence  of  the 
Governors  of  the  colonies  before  taking  action  ;  but  he 
had  done  neither.  "  With  or  without  support  I  shall  fight 
the  Bill ;  for  I  beUeve  Confederation  to  be  inapplicable  to 
South  Africa,  and  the  Bill  involves  us  in  a  deed  which,  if 
ratified,  wiU  bring  disgrace  and  dishonour  on  the  EngUsh 
people."  The  rejection  was  seconded  by  Sir  Charles  Dilke  ; 
but  the  second  reading  was  carried  by  81  to  19. 

Courtney  renewed  his  opposition  when  the  House  went 
into  Committee  on  the  Bill,  and  returned  to  the  charge  in 
the  last  week  of  the  session,  when  he  moved  that  "  the 
annexation  of  the  South  African  Republic  is  unjustifiable. 


and  calculated  to  be  injurious  to  the  interests  of  the  United 
Kingdom  and  of  its  Colonies."  The  frequent  suggestion 
that  the  natives  might  prove  dangerous  not  only  to  the 
inhabitants  of  the  Transvaal  but  to  ourselves  was  not 
supported  by  Shepstone ;  and  indeed  the  natives  under 
Secocoeni  had  been  worsted  by  the  small  Transvaal  force 
before  we  annexed  the  country.  It  had  been  falsely  denied 
that  the  annexation  had  been  secured  by  force,  and  much 
had  been  made  of  the  alleged  consent  of  the  Transvaal 
Repubhc.  Shepstone  had  been  welcomed  with  cordiality 
because  the  people  beUeved  he  had  come  to  negotiate  an 
offensive  and  defensive  alliance,  and  annexation  was  a 
complete  surprise.  He  had  been  told  to  obtain  the  consent 
of  the  Governors-General  before  acting,  but  had  disobeyed 
the  order.  Though  we  had  in  past^time  agreed  to  allow 
the  Boers  to  trek  into  the  interior,  we  had  now  undertaken 
the  immense  burden  of  administering  the  Transvaal.  We 
should  be  compelled  to  take  over  its  existing  and  prospective 
quarrels  with  the  native  chiefs,  and  it  could  be  governed 
by  despotic  methods  alone.  To  these  familiar  arguments 
Lowther  returned  the  equally  famiHar  rejoinder  that  Shep- 
stone was  a  first-rate  pubhc  servant,  and  that  the  policy 
of  the  Transvaal  would  inevitably  have  led  to  a  native  war 
endangering  the  security  of  its  neighbours.  The  dispute 
was  incapable  of  settlement,  for  nobody  could  know  how 
the  situation  would  have  developed  if  the  country  had  not 
been  annexed.  But  when  the  Zulu  War  broke  out  two 
years  later  Courtney  pointed  to  his  prophecy  that  annexa- 
tion would  increase  the  danger  to  the  British  colonies. 

Courtney  had  quickly  foimd  his  feet  in  the  House  of 
Commons,  and  he  lost  no  opportunity  of  championing  the 
causes  to  which  he  was  pledged.  If  afforded  the  disciple 
of  Mill  peculiar  satisfaction  to  support  a  Woman's  Suffrage 
Bill,  a  hardy  annual  sponsored  by  Jacob  Bright.  In  reply 
to  Mr.  Arthur  Balfour  and  Isaac  Butt,  the  latter  of  whom 
argued  that  "  by  the  ordinance  of  Providence  woman  was 
never  intended  for  these  things,"  he  pointed  out  that  the 
considerations  now  employed  against  the  vote  were  formerly 
urged  against  her  education.     "  Even  if  her  emancipation 

134  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

were  accompanied  by  the  risk  of  degradation  which  had 
been  anticipated,  I  would  face  it  in  consideration  of  the 
advantages  to  be  gained.  There  is  no  fear  that  courtesy 
from  strong  men  to  weak  women  will  diminish." 

The  report  in  Hansard  gravely  records  that  the  member 
for  Liskeard  "  spoke  amid  continued  interruption  "  ;  but 
we  owe  a  less  prosaic  account  of  the  incident  to  the  lively 
pen  of  Sir  Henry  Lucy.^  "  Mr.  Courtney  was  too  good  a 
citizen  to  leave  the  House  of  Commons  long  lacking  the 
benefit  of  his  counsel.  I  have  no  recollection  of  his  maiden 
speech  ;  but  as  early  as  the  first  week  in  June  he  suddenly 
achieved  fame.  It  was  a  Wednesday  afternoon,  and  the 
House  was  engaged  on  the  second  reading  of  the  Woman's 
Suffrage  Bill.  That  is  one  of  several  subjects  on  the  flank 
of  Imperial  politics  Mr.  Courtney  has  made  especially  his 
own.  He  was  anxious  above  all  things  that  a  division 
should  be  taken  on  the  second  reading.  He  succeeded  in 
talking  out  the  BiU.  It  was  a  quarter  past  five  when  he 
rose  with  a  portentous  sheaf  of  notes  in  his  hand.  At  that 
time  debate  on  Wednesdays  might  be  continued  till  a 
quarter  to  six,  when,  if  not  otherwise  concluded,  it  would 
automatically  close.  Mr.  Courtney  had  something  under 
half  an  hour  at  his  disposal,  and,  had  he  been  left  un- 
disturbed, might  have  used  the  opportunity  to  advantage. 
It  happens  that  thus  early  in  his  career  he  had  succeeded 
in  alienating  the  House,  a  position  long  ago  retrieved  by 
fuller  acquaintance  with  his  sterling  quahties  and  his  high 
capacity.  There  are  few  things  the  House  of  Commons 
resents  more  hotly  than  haste  on  the  part  of  a  new  member 
to  assist  it  with  his  counsel.  At  this  epoch  Mr.  Courtney 
had  strong  views  on  the  Eastern  question  and  was  not 
diffident  in  setting  them  forth.  When  he  now  appeared  on 
an  off  -  day,  plainly  predisposed  to  deliver  a  lecture  on 
women's  rights,  members,  in  any  circumstances  shamelessly 
predisposed  to  make  fun  of  the  topic,  resolved  to  '  have  a 
lark.'  He  had  not  proceeded  far  when  there  were  cries 
for  the  division.  This  interruption  he  met  with  angry 
rebuke  that  fanned  the  flame.     For  twenty  minutes  he 

^  Cornish  Magazine,  i888,  pp.  162-3. 


stood  and  faced  the  storm.  Opposite  and  around  him  was 
a  crowd  of  hilarious  gentlemen  shouting  '  'Vide  !  'vide  ! 
'vide  !  '  When  the  roar  of  sound  momentarily  fell  Mr. 
Courtney,  raising  his  stentorian  voice  to  thunderous  heights, 
attempted  to  get  in  the  fragment  of  a  sentence.  Then,  as 
the  winter  storm  surging  through  the  forlorn  trees,  having 
apparently  blown  itself  out,  suddenly  rises  with  angrier 
roar,  so  Mr.  Courtney's  voice  was  drowned  in  a  fresh  shout 
of  '  'Vide  !  'vide  !  'vide  !  '  It  was  characteristic  of  his 
courage  that,  though  still  a  new  member,  presumably  in 
awe  of  the  House,  he  for  twenty  minutes  faced  the  music, 
the  roar  rising  to  a  final  yell  of  exultation  when,  as  the 
hand  of  the  clock  pointed  to  a  quarter  to  six,  the  Speaker 
rose  with  calls  of  '  Order  !  order  !  '  and  Mr.  Courtney  sat 
down,  having  talked  out  the  Bill  he  had  risen  to  advocate." 

By  the  end  of  his  first  session  the  House  was  aware 
that  the  member  for  Liskeard  was  an  able  and  well-informed 
man  with  a  mind  of  his  own.  He  had  taken  his  stand 
beside  Fawcett  and  the  other  Radical  leaders,  and  in  the 
dominant  issue  of  the  day  he  had  supported  Gladstone 
against  the  titular  leaders  of  the  party.  His  speeches  had 
justified  and  increased  the  reputation  with  which  he  had 
entered  the  House,  and  his  fearless  independence  won  him 
respect  in  all  camps.  At  a  dinner-party  given  by  Sir 
Charles  Dilke  the  guests  discussed  the  nature  of  "  moral 
force  "  ;  and  the  host,  after  reviewing  various  distinguished 
names,  decided  that  "  Courtney  and  Fawcett  both  have 
moral  force."  ^  "  The  House  soon  became  aware  of  the 
ability  of  its  new  recruit,"  writes  Lord  Northbourne,  who 
entered  the  House  in  1874.  "  His  personality  left  a  mark 
on  a  crowd  of  very  commonplace  and  ordinary  M.P.'s,  of 
the  rank  and  file  of  whom  I  was  one.  He  had  a  splendid 
intellect.  He  seemed  always  ready  to  Hsten  to  his  intel- 
lectual inferiors,  though  I  should  imagine  their  society  and 
conversation  must  have  bored  him.  Combined  with  his 
massive  brain  power  he  had  an  abrupt  and  distant  manner, 
and  probably  acquired  the  reputation  of  the  same  kind  as 

^  Dilke' s  Life,  i.  219. 

136  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

another  member  whose  name  need  not  be  repeated.     Talk 

five  minutes  to  Mr. ,  and  you  will  find  he  is  a  clever 

fellow.  Continue  the  conversation  for  another  five  minutes 
and  you  will  discover  he  is  very  clever.  Pursue  it  for 
fifteen  minutes,  and  you  will  conclude  he  thinks  you  a  fool. 
This  was  not  intentional,  I  am  sure,  on  Courtney's  part ; 
but  it  is  not  surprising  that  a  mind  of  this  stamp  was  not 
very  popular.  He  was  rough  but  very  human.  The  best 
comphment  I  could  pay  him  was  to  say  he  resembled  Dr. 
Johnson,  of  whom  some  one  remarked  that  there  was 
nothing  of  the  bear  about  him  except  his  skin." 

The  Russo-Turkish  conflict  which  Lord  Beaconsfield  had 
failed  to  prevent  ran  its  course  during  1877  and  was  finally 
settled  in  favour  of  Russia,  largely  by  the  aid  of  Roumanian 
arms.  The  Prime  Minister  made  no  secret  of  his  sympathies, 
and  at  the  Guildhall  Banquet  on  November  9  he  extolled 
the  valour  and  patriotism  of  the  Turkish  troops.  When  the 
fall  of  Plevna  and  the  capture  of  the  Shipka  Pass  opened 
the  way  to  Constantinople,  a  British  Fleet  was  ordered  to 
the  Dardanelles.  Lord  Carnarvon  and  Lord  Derby,  who 
were  opposed  to  a  second  Crimean  War,  resigned ;  but  the 
Foreign  Secretary  withdrew  his  resignation.  ParHament 
had  been  smnmoned  to  meet  before  the  appointed  time, 
and  was  promptly  invited  to  pass  a  Vote  of  Credit.  On 
behalf  of  the  Opposition  a  hostile  amendment  was  moved 
by  Forster ;  but  on  the  receipt  of  a  false  report  that  the 
Russians  were  advancing  on  Constantinople  it  was  with- 
drawn. While  the  party  leaders  were  vacillating  Courtney, 
as  usual,  had  a  clear  idea  of  what  ought  to  be  done,  and 
explained  his  poHcy  to  the  House.  The  Government, 
rel5dng  on  the  outburst  of  popular  passion  against  Russia, 
maintained  that  the  nation  was  imanimous ;  but  this 
"  unanimity,"  he  declared,  was  imaginary.  We  must  choose 
between  Russia  and  Turkey.  The  Ministers  said  they  were 
going  to  the  Conference  to  act  with  Austria,  to  take  their 
stand  on  the  treaty  of  1856,  and  to  compel  Russia  to  accept 
its  conditions.  These,  he  felt  sure,  were  aims  of  which  the 
people  of  England  would  not  approve.  It  was  quite 
impossible  to  doubt  that  the  great  majority  looked  back 

vii  THE  HOUSE  OF  COMMONS  137 

to  the  Crimean  War  with  abhorrence  and  had  no  wish  to 
abide  by  its  results  ;  while  many  others  would,  if  they 
could,  reproduce  that  war.  The  coming  Conference  was 
fuU  of  the  peril  of  war.  Point  after  point  might  arise  of  a 
natiure  to  incite  the  Government  and  the  people  of  England. 
He  hoped  we  should  shake  ourselves  free  from  Turkish 
and  Austrian  influences  and  assist  in  obtaining  the  freedom 
of  Bulgaria  and  the  Greeks.  There  was  only  one  interest  we 
had  to  guard,  and  that  was  the  keeping  open  or  keeping  shut 
of  the  Dardanelles.  If  we  aimed  at  anything  else,  let  it  be 
to  neutrahse  Austria  and  to  uphold  the  settlement  proposed 
by  Russia  of  the  question  of  the  subject  races  of  the  Sultan. 
"  There  was  only  one  really  eloquent  speech,"  wrote 
the  London  correspondent  of  the  Western  Morning  News, 
"  and  that  was  Mr.  Courtney's.  He  was  continually  inter- 
rupted by  the  members  who  sat  opposite.  The  outcries 
seemed  to  make  him  very  nervous,  but  the  nervousness  gave 
a  noteworthy  touch  to  the  eloquence,  making  him  more 
animated  and  more  picturesque.  He  needs  only  one 
quahty  to  make  him  a  favourite.  He  cannot  joke.  Last 
night  he  argued  when  he  was  howled  at.  He  should  sit 
for  a  while  at  the  feet  of  his  friend  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson,  and 
then  see  what  the  House  wiU  think  of  him." 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

February  9,  1878. — You  wUl  of  course  have  seen  that  we 
have  had  very  exciting  times.  The  report  in  the  Times  was 
absurdly  bad,  being  in  fact  in  many  parts  unintelligible.  For 
some  reasons  I  was  very  well  pleased  with  my  performance. 
In  the  first  place  the  House  was  in  the  most  languid  condition 
after  the  excitement  before  dinner,  and  speaker  after  speaker 
addressed  most  listless  audiences.  WeU,  I  certainly  gave  the 
discussion  a  new  start,  and  puUed  the  men  together.  Next, 
although  I  had  notes  lying  on  the  bench  I  never  took  them 
up  or  referred  to  them  from  beginning  to  end,  which  was  a  useful 
experience.  The  "  excited  gesticulation  "  of  the  Times  was  no 
loss  of  temper  or  self-command  as  suggested  :  I  had  foreseen 
what  would  happen  at  that  part  of  my  argument,  and  was 
simply  pursuing  the  course  I  had  arranged  in  my  own  mind. 
The  Speaker  pulled  me  up  for  doing  what  Bright  and  some  others 

138  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

do  in  every  considerable  speech — but  I  cannot  complain,  as  he  was 
only  recaUing  the  rule  which  is  so  often  broken.  Altogether  I 
was  well  satisfied.  Our  leaders  (Hartington,  Forster,  etc.)  put 
themselves  in  a  very  ridiculous  position  yesterday,  and  they 
were  so  attacked  right  and  left  and  so  ironically  cheered  in  the 
end  that  I  should  not  have  been  surprised  to-day  to  hear  that 
Hartington  had  resigned. 

Throughout  the  spring  England  and  Russia  eyed  each 
other  like  duellists  waiting  for  the  signal.  When  the 
Treaty  of  San  Stefano,  signed  on  March  3,  terminated  the 
war  between  Russia  and  Turkey,  Lord  Derby  informed 
Gortschakoff  that  its  terms  must  be  laid  before  a  European 
Congress.  On  the  Chancellor's  rejoinder  that  he  could  only 
accept  a  discussion  of  the  clauses  which  affected  European 
interests,  the  Cabinet  decided  to  call  out  the  reserves. 
Lord  Derby  promptly  resigned,  and  war  appeared  immi- 
nent. The  Opposition  being  stricken  with  paralysis,  it  was 
left  to  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson  to  protest.  He  was  strongly 
supported  by  Courtney,  who  denied  the  existence  of  an 
emergency.  He  was  no  more  enamoured  of  the  Treaty  of 
San  Stefano  than  was  the  Ministry,  and  it  was  a  great  blot 
that  the  inhabitants  of  Bosnia  and  Herzegovina,  who  had 
started  the  war  of  emancipation,  were  left  uncared  for. 
Much,  however,  might  be  achieved  if  the  Treaty  were 
considered  in  a  Congress  into  which  the  Government  would 
consent  to  enter  in  a  fair  and  reasonable  spirit.  The  real 
question  was  whether  the  Government  intended  to  fight 
or  whether  its  bellicose  gestures  were  only  swagger.  In 
spite  of  Hartington's  advice  to  withdraw  the  amendment. 
Sir  Wilfrid,  with  Courtney's  approval,  insisted  on  a  division 
and  was  beaten  by  319  to  64. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

April  10,  1878. — You  will  have  seen  I  spoke  last  night.  The 
speech  was  not  so  well  received  as  late  speeches  of  mine  have 
been,  but  I  do  not  think  the  fault  was  mine.  The  hour  was 
late  and  I  represented  a  small  minority,  and  the  younger  fellows 
on  the  other  side  were  noisy.  I  was  not  dissatisfied  with  myself. 
Hartington  who  followed  spoke  very  lamely,  and  was  received 


with  dead  silence  below  the  gangway,  and  with  very  little 
cheering  above  the  gangway.  Every  now  and  then  Forster's 
voice  was  heard  saying  "  Hear,  hear,"  all  by  himself.  The 
World  of  this  week  contains  an  article  called  "  Mr.  Courtney's 
last,"  throwing  upon  my  obstinacy  and  wrongheadedness  all  the 
blame  of  the  division.  I  had  a  good  deal  to  do  with  it,  but 
Lawson  required  no  prompting  or  support  from  me.  He  was 
quite  staunch,  and  had  made  up  his  mind  to  move  an  amendment 
without  any  consultation  with  me,  although  it  is  true  that  the 
amendment  he  proposed  was  drawn  by  me.  Some  thirty  of  us 
had  formed  ourselves  into  a  Committee,  and  had  met  from  time 
to  time  under  Dillwyn's  chairmanship,  and  there  were  great 
divisions  among  us  ;  and  last  Friday  we  received  a  communica- 
tion from  Lord  Hartington  explaining  his  own  position,  and 
Gladstone's  also.  This  was  so  discouraging  that  Chamberlain 
was  for  giving  up  the  opposition  ;  but  I  pointed  out  how  guarded 
the  language  of  the  memorandvun  was  in  reference  to  Gladstone, 
and  prophesied  that  if  we  persevered  he  would  vote  with  us, 
as  in  fact  both  he  and  Bright  did.  The  result  is  therefore  a 
justification  of  my  position,  but,  as  I  have  said  before,  Lawson 
needed  no  prompting. 

A  week  later,  on  the  Easter  adjournment,  the  fearless 
Sir  Wilfrid  returned  to  the  charge.  Lord  Derby  had  de- 
scribed the  Government  policy  as  one  not  of  drifting  but  of 
rushing  into  war.  When  a  conflict  might  break  out  at 
any  moment  an  Easter  recess  of  three  weeks  was  inexcus- 
able. His  protest  was  supported  by  Fawcett  and  by 
Courtney,  who  adjured  the  Government  no  longer  to 
obstruct  the  peaceful  resettlement  of  the  Near  East.  The 
Leader  of  the  House  made  a  reassuring  reply ;  but  next 
day  it  was  announced  that  Indian  troops  had  been  ordered 
to  Malta.  The  dragging  crisis  was  ended  by  the  Congress 
of  Berlin,  from  which  the  Prime  Minister  returned  bringing 
"  peace  with  honour."  In  the  debate  on  the  Treaty 
Courtney  reiterated  his  disapproval  of  the  policy  of  the 
Government  since  1876,  argued  that  the  same  result  might 
have  been  attained  without  war  had  Great  Britain  joined 
Russia  in  her  threat  of  coercion,  and  denounced  the  Conven- 
tion of  Cyprus  as  discreditable  and  impracticable.  "  Turkey 
is  said  to  be,  and  probably  is,  stronger  for  defensive  purposes 
than  before  the  war  ;    then  why  did  not  the  Government 

140  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

assent  to  coercion  eighteen  months  ago  and  thereby  attain 
the  same  result  without  shedding  blood  or  wasting  wealth?  " 
The  results  might  be  considerable,  but  what  a  price  had 
been  paid  for  them  !  It  was  impossible  to  think  Turkey 
would  have  been  so  insane  as  to  have  resisted  the  will  of 
united  Europe.  Had  she  done  so,  the  contest  would  have 
been  short  and  sharp.  He  was  not  on  the  whole  displeased 
with  the  Treaty  of  Berlin,  though  the  neglect  of  Greek 
interests  was  regrettable  ;  but  he  owed  no  thanks  to  the 
Government  for  it,  for  it  was  got  in  spite  of  them.  They 
had  made  the  cardinal  mistake  of  supposing  they  could 
restrain  Russia  by  upholding  a  feeble  Turkey,  instead  of 
replacing  Turkey  by  vigorous  free  states.  The  horror  of 
war,  which  seized  them  last  year  when  for  the  world  they 
would  not  coerce  Turkey,  did  not  prevent  them  from  bring- 
ing over  the  Indian  troops,  caUing  out  the  reserves,  and 
sending  the  Fleet  to  the  Marmora  in  order  to  re-establish 
the  dominion  of  the  Porte. 

The  session  of  1878  was  darkened  and  dominated  by 
the  cloud  in  the  East ;  and  Courtney  was  the  only  imofiicial 
member  who  kept  a  close  watch  on  South  Africa.^  When 
delegates  from  the  Transvaal  had  protested  against  the 
annexation,  they  had  been  told  that  their  fellow-countrymen 
were  in  favour  of  the  change.  On  their  return  the  assertion 
was  tested,  and  a  Memorial  hostile  to  the  annexation  was 
signed  by  6600  out  of  8000  adtilt  males.  The  correspond- 
ence between  the  delegates  and  the  Colonial  Secretary  was 
circulated  at  the  end  of  the  session,  and  Comtney  called 
attention  to  it  on  the  closing  day.  It  was  natural  that  he 
should  find  confirmation  in  the  plebiscite  for  his  action  in 
the  previous  year  ;  but  after  reiterating  his  objection  to 
the  annexation  he  passed  to  the  practical  question  what 
should  be  done.  The  delegates  had  come  to  England,  and 
they  ought  not  to  return  without  a  Parhamentary  discussion 
of  their  grievances.  The  Colonial  Secretary  had  told  them 
to  accept  the  situation,  return  home  and  keep  quiet ;  but 
something  more  was  needed.     "  I  should  not  advise  the 

1  Some  years  later  Froude  asked  Mrs.  Courtney  how  her  husband 
came  to  know  so  much  about  South  Africa,  and  to  be  so  right. 


Government  to  restore  their  independence  ;  but  we  should 
give  them  some  message  which  they  could  take  back  which 
would  remove  the  disaffection.  If  we  could  satisfy  the 
aspirations  for  freedom  and  self-government  I  hope  we  shall 
see  gradually  disappear  the  idea  of  a  forcible  attempt  to 
reassert  their  independence  which  is  undoubtedly  simmering. 
Let  us  station  troops  at  two  or  three  points  to  avoid  danger 
with  the  natives,  and  let  them  have  their  own  institutions," 
A  great,  empty  country  could  not  be  governed  like  a  popu- 
lous British  colony.  The  way  to  tranquilhse  South  Africa 
was  to  grant  local  autonomy  to  the  Transvaal.  To  this  plea 
Sir  Michael  Hicks-Beach,  who  had  succeeded  Lord  Carnarvon 
as  Colonial  Secretary,  replied  that  it  was  mischievous  to 
excite  hopes  in  the  breasts  of  the  delegates  which  could 
not  be  gratified.  Lord  Carnarvon  had  never  promised  a 
plebiscite,  and  the  Government  could  not  allow  its  policy  to 
be  influenced  by  Memorials.  The  official  reply  satisfied  the 
House  ;  but  Courtney's  warning  was  to  be  recalled  when  the 
neglect  of  his  advice  produced  the  evils  which  he  foresaw. 

A  third  cause  for  which  Courtney  had  pleaded  in  his 
first  session  was  again  championed  by  him  in  his  second. 
Jacob  Bright 's  Woman  Suffrage  Bill,  for  which  he  had 
spoken  in  1877,  was  taken  over  by  him  in  1878  and  intro- 
duced in  June.  At  the  opening  of  the  sitting  he  presented 
a  number  of  petitions,  one  of  them  exclusively  signed  by 
well-known  women  such  as  Florence  Nightingale,  Harriet 
Grote  and  Anna  Swan  wick.  "  I  rise,"  he  began,  "  in  the 
well-assured  beUef  that  it  will  be  accepted  in  the  Parlia- 
mentary lifetime  of  many  of  the  older  members  of  this 
House."  Woman  suffrage  was  a  necessary  element  in 
representative  government.  Moreover,  it  would  create 
interest  in  public  affairs  and  strengthen  the  sense  of  citizen- 
ship and  solidarity.  "  By  advancing  woman  you  will 
advance  man  with  her.  It  will  develop  a  fuller,  freer, 
nobler  woman."  ^  In  answer  to  the  charge  that  he  adduced 
arguments  from  the  nebular  region  of  natural  rights  he 

^  He  was,  in  the  words  of  Miss  Emily  Davies,  "  a  very  early  and  valued 
friend  "  of  Girton,  and  was  a  member  of  the  Executive  Committee  from 
1876  to  1896. 

142  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

avowed  himself  a  pure  utilitarian.  "  I  base  the  whole  oi 
my  argument — and  all  the  philosophy  to  which  I  can  lay 
claim — on  the  doctrine  of  expediency."  He  and  Gorst  were 
the  Tellers  for  the  Bill,  which  secured  the  encouraging 
number  of  140  Ayes  to  220  Noes.  To  friends  and  foes  aUke 
the  figures  seem  to  confirm  the  sanguine  forecast  of  the 
opener's  speech. 

During  the  same  session  he  deUvered  the  first  of  many 
speeches  on  a  theme  as  near  to  his  heart  as  that  of  woman 
suffrage.  Quoting  Mill's  well-known  statement  that  pro- 
portional representation  was  the  greatest  reform  still  to  be 
made  in  the  art  of  pohtics,  and  the  dictum  of  Prevost- 
Paradol  that  it  would  prove  as  important  as  the  invention 
of  steam,  he  pointed  out  the  narrowing  influence  of  the 
single-member  constituency.  MiU,  for  instance,  after  losing 
his  seat,  could  not  have  canvassed  any  constituency  with 
hope  of  success,  and  George  Odger,  one  of  the  most  trusted 
of  working-class  leaders,  could  never  secure  election.  Every 
class,  every  school  of  thought  should  have  its  fair  share  of 
power.  The  cumulative  vote  had  been  rejected  in  the 
Franchise  Act  of  1867,  but  accepted  in  1870  for  the  election 
of  school  boards.  He  was  now  full  of  hope  that  when  a 
Reform  BiU  again  came  before  the  House  something  in  the 
shape  of  the  representation  of  minorities  would  form  part 
of  it.  The  Birmingham  Confederation  condemned  the  plan, 
for  they  knew  it  would  destroy  their  power.  For  his  part 
he  would  greatly  rejoice  if  it  produced  that  result.  He 
could  not  conceive  how  any  person  who  had  any  knowledge 
of  the  caucus  system  in  the  United  States  could  watch  the 
growth  of  that  Confederation  without  apprehension.  Its 
object  was  to  repress  local  feeling,  local  energy  and  inde- 
pendence, and  it  sent  forth  its  orders  over  the  land  by  means 
of  a  great  machinery  of  the  most  alarming  character. 
Chamberlain  was  not  in  his  place  to  take  up  the  challenge, 
and  the  debate  was  cut  short  on  the  discovery  that  less  than 
forty  members  were  present.  No  Minister  thought  it 
worth  his  while  to  rise,  and  the  missionary  of  the  new  faith 
reaUsed  once  again  that  indifference  is  often  a  more  formid- 
able foe  than  hostihty. 

vii  THE  HOUSE  OF  COMMONS  143 

The  prestige  of  the  Government,  which  had  never  stood 
higher  than  after  the  Congress  of  Beriin,  began  to  wane  in 
the  autumn  when  Lord  Lytton,  supported  by  his  Russo- 
phobe chief,  plunged  into  an  unprovoked  war  with 
Afghanistan.  For  once  the  Opposition  was  united  and 
resolute,  and  when  the  new  session  was  opened  in  December 
Hartington  vied  with  Gladstone  in  denouncing  a  policy 
which  drove  the  Amir  into  the  arms  of  Russia,  and  demanded 
the  immediate  recall  of  the  bellicose  Viceroy.  Courtney 
joined  in  the  attack,  and  deUvered  an  impressive  warning 
against  the  Forward  PoUcy  on  the  Indian  frontier.  If  the 
result  of  the  present  war,  he  argued,  was  a  rectification  of 
the  frontier  we  should  be  driven,  as  soon  as  we  had  crossed 
the  crests  of  the  mountain  ranges,  to  pour  down  to  the 
vaUeys  on  the  other  side,  as  surely  as  water  poured  down, 
a  hiU.  Three  years  ago  he  had  visited  the  country  and 
taken  the  utmost  pains  to  investigate  the  frontier  question. 
He  found  a  general  concurrence  among  all  authorities,  civil 
and  miUtary,  against  advancing  the  boundary.  He  beheved 
we  might  defy  Russian  intrigue  in  India  so  long  as  we 
governed  the  country  justly  and  honestly. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

December  20,  1878. — My  speech  last  week  was  delivered  at 
a  very  good  hour,  except  that  I  was  obliged  to  compress  it  too 
much.  I  was  not  myself  thoroughly  satisfied  with  the  effort, 
but  a  good  many  friends  seem  to  have  thought  highly  of  it. 
Our  side  were  in  high  spirits  over  the  debate  and  the  division, 
while  the  Government  supporters  appeared  out  of  heart  and 

Though  the  Government  majority  remained  at  full 
strength,  its  strength  was  beginning  to  ebb  ;  and  while  the 
Afghan  campaign  was  still  in  progress  a  new  and  even 
graver  complication  arose  in  South  Africa.  The  growth  of 
the  Zulu  power  had  for  some  time  threatened  both  the 
Transvaal  and  Natal,  and  in  the  autumn  of  1878  Cetewayo 
appeared  to  be  in  such  a  dangerous  mood  that  the  High 
Commissioner,  Sir  Bartle  Frere,  applied  for  reinforcements. 

144  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

The  Cabinet  refused,  urging  prudence  and  compromise  ; 
but  Frere,  honestly  convinced  that  Natal  was  in  danger, 
took  the  bit  in  his  teeth  and  launched  an  ultimatum,  demand- 
ing the  break-up  of  the  mihtary  system  of  the  Zulus  and  the 
reception  of  a  British  Resident.  No  reply  was  vouchsafed, 
and,  after  the  expiry  of  the  thirty  days  of  grace,  British 
troops  entered  Zululand.  Lord  Chelmsford  ignorantly 
despised  the  enemy,  but  he  was  rudely  awakened  at 
Isandhlana.  Though  the  battle  was  fought  on  January  22, 
the  news  only  reached  England  on  February  11,  and  Parlia- 
ment, which  had  adjourned  after  a  few  days'  work  in 
December,  met  under  the  shadow  of  the  disaster.  PubUc 
opinion  was  bewildered  by  the  suddenness  and  severity  of 
the  shock,  and  Courtney's  repeated  warnings  that  the 
annexation  of  the  Transvaal  would  increase  instead  of 
diminishing  the  native  menace  were  freely  recalled. 

To  his  Father 

February  13,  1879. — The  session  may  be  said  to  have  begun 
last  night  when  there  were  divers  dinners  and  two  big  receptions, 
one  at  the  Admiralty  and  the  other  at  Lady  Granville's.  Mrs. 
Smith  sent  me  a  card  for  the  former  and  I  went  there  first. 
Almost  all  there  were  Ministers  or  Ministerial  supporters  or 
permanent  officials  belonging  to  no  party.  I  went  in  on  the 
heels  of  the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer,  who  was  very  civil. 
I  saw  and  shook  hands  with  lots  of  people  including  Mrs.  Smith, 
but  Smith  himself  I  could  only  nod  to  across  a  crowd.  When  I 
got  to  Lady  Granville's  the  throng  was  immense.  I  found, 
somewhat  to  my  amusement,  that  this  frightful  business  in 
Zululand  had  made  a  great  difference  in  my  position.  Mrs. 
Pennington,  who  is  always  very  good-natured,  said,  "  Mr. 
Courtney,  you  are  the  hero  of  the  hour  ;  I  have  been  told  so  two 
or  three  times,  and  I  have  said,  he  deserves  it."  I  met  with 
some  evidence  of  the  state  of  the  case  when  I  got  up  in  the 
saloons.  Even  Hartington  was  moved  to  open  his  mouth. 
"  You  must  feel  in  the  proud  position  of  the  man  who  has  been 
right  all  along."  Lord  Granville  I  did  not  see  till  late  ;  I  was 
talking  to  Lord  Dufferin,  telling  him,  jokingly,  that  I  should 
come  to  see  him  at  St.  Petersburg,  when  I  felt  my  elbow  twitched 
and  turning  round  there  was  Lord  Granville.  We  chatted 
about  nothing  in  particular  for  some  time,  and  then  he  said. 


"  Whenever  you  have  a  dull  afternoon  in  the  House  there  is 
always  tea  here,  dress  or  not  dress."  I  don't  know  what  he 
meant  exactly  by  the  last  words,  as  no  one  would  dress  for  after- 
noon tea,  but  his  general  intention  was  plain. 

The  obvious  duty  of  the  Government  was  either  to  recall 
the  High  Commissioner  or  to  support  him  ;  but  after  taking 
a  month  to  reflect  they  chose  a  third  course,  combining  a 
sharp  censure  of  his  action  with  a  request  to  remain  at  his 
post.  This  illogical  compromise  positively  invited  attack, 
and  the  Opposition  in  both  Houses  moved  a  vote  of  censure 
on  Sir  Bartle  Frere  for  making  war,  and  on  the  Government 
for  not  recalling  him.  On  the  third  night  of  the  debate  on 
Sir  Charles  Dilke's  motion  Courtney  delivered  what  was 
described  by  the  speaker  who  followed  him  as  an  impassioned 
harangue.  Cetewayo,  he  declared,  had  not  possessed  the 
power,  even  if  he  had  the  will,  to  carry  out  the  threats 
imputed  to  him  ;  and  had  he  been  so  terrible  and  treacherous 
he  would  have  invaded  Natal  long  ago  when  it  was  denuded 
of  troops.  This  line  of  attack  was  common  to  many  of  the 
Opposition  orators  ;  but  the  member  for  Liskeard  threw  his 
net  much  wider.  All  our  subsequent  difficulties,  he  con- 
tended, were  due  to  the  annexation  of  the  Transvaal,  which 
increased  our  responsibihties  and  exposed  our  colonies  to 
certain  and  immediate  danger.  We  had  taken  over  a 
country  which,  on  account  of  its  size  and  the  hostiUty  of 
its  inhabitants,  we  could  not  control,  and  we  had  inherited 
its  border  quarrels.  Now  that  the  folly  of  our  action  had 
been  demonstrated,  we  should  release  the  Transvaal  and 
thus  erect  a  barrier  between  our  colonies  and  the  natives. 

The  war  dragged  on  throughout  the  spring,  and  in  May 
Lord  Chelmsford  was  superseded  by  Sir  Garnet  Wolseley, 
who  was  also  entrusted  with  supreme  authority  in  the 
Transvaal  and  Natal.  Before,  however,  the  new  commander 
reached  his  post,  the  Zulu  army  was  defeated  by  Lord 
Chelmsford  at  Ulundi.  The  peril  was  over,  and  there  was 
little  left  for  Wolseley  but  to  take  Cetewayo  captive.  With 
the  end  of  the  war  in  sight  the  political  side  of  the  South 
African  problem  came  up  for  consideration.  At  the  close 
of  the  session,  in  discussion  of  Supply,  Courtney  once  more 


146  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

drew  his  accustomed  moral  from  the  tale.  The  war,  he 
declared,  had  been  inflicted  on  South  Africa  by  Lord 
Carnarvon  and  Sir  Bartle  Frere.  The  struggle  with  the 
Zulus  was  only  an  episode — an  illustration  of  the  results  of 
a  pohcy  which  would  raise  other  enemies  not  more  easily 
subdued  than  Cetewayo.  The  Government's  desire  for 
Confederation  meant  a  policy  of  active  extension  and  the 
permanent  retention  of  the  Transvaal.  When  the  colonies 
were  told  that  if  they  involved  themselves  in  war  they 
must  bear  the  consequences,  there  were  twenty-five  years 
of  peace.  Frere  had  decided  that  our  neighbours  must  be 
subordinates  ;  equals  they  could  not  be.  When  we  had 
got  rid  of  the  Zulus  or  the  Swazis,  there  would  be  some  other 
race  to  deal  with,  and  we  should  be  landed  at  the  Zambesi. 
As  long  as  our  colonists  knew  that  in  all  their  difficulties 
we  should  come  to  their  assistance,  so  long  would  they  go 
on  calling  upon  us  to  do  so.  Retention  of  the  Transvaal 
involved  keeping  a  British  soldier  in  the  country  for  every 
Boer  inhabitcint.  Such  a  policy  would  have  to  be  dropped 
on  account  of  its  expense,  if  not  of  its  immorahty. 

In  the  later  years  of  Beaconsfield's  rule  the  attention  of 
Parhament  was  almost  monopoUsed  by  war  and  rumours 
of  war.  The  author  of  Sybil  and  Coningsby  had  lost  his 
interest  in  the  people  and  had  learned  to  think  in  continents. 
Meanwhile  the  friends  of  social  and  political  reform  renewed 
their  appeal  in  each  succeeding  session,  not  expecting  to 
secure  the  assent  of  a  Conservative  Chamber,  but  deter- 
mined to  prepare  public  opinion  for  the  melting  of  the 
snows.  For  the  third  time  Courtney  pleaded  the  cause  of 
Woman  Suffrage,  preferring,  for  the  sake  of  variety,  a 
motion  to  a  bill.  On  this  occasion  he  was  able  to  appeal  to 
the  conversion  of  the  State  of  Wyoming ;  but  the  division 
was  disappointing,  for  only  103  supporters  followed  him 
into  the  lobby. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

March  14,  1879. — You  saw  that  my  speech  on  Tuesday  week 
was  a  success.  The  effect  of  it  may  be  best  gathered  from 
Punch,  especially  if  you  remember  how  that  great  authority 

vir  THE  HOUSE  OF  COMMONS  147 

spoke  of  Blennerhassett  and  myself  last  year,  when  we  discussed 
the  Representation  of  Minorities,  On  Wednesday  I  dined  with 
Lord  Hartington.  At  the  door  I  met  Lord  Houghton  who  was 
overflowing ;  he  had  been  going  to  write  me  a  pretty  little 
note,  he  said,  and  was  almost  sorry  we  had  met,  Hartington 
himself  was  very  cordial  and  chatty,  and  I  asked  after  his  cold 
with  affectionate  interest.  Friday's  speech  was  not  by  any 
means  so  good  ;  the  audience  was  thin,  and  there  was  a  creeping 
fog  in  the  House  which  became  thicker  at  a  later  hour,  but 
Gladstone  did  me  the  compliment  of  listening  most  attentively, 
and  some  of  the  ladies  upstairs  began  to  hope  for  his  conversion. 
The  attack  of  Henry  James  at  the  end  of  the  debate  was  rather 
a  tribute  of  respect  than  damaging.  The  division  was  exceed- 
ingly unsatisfactory  in  respect  of  numbers — I  hardly  know  why. 

Though  Courtney  belonged  to  the  Radical  group  of  the 
party,  he  was  not  an  undiscriminating  supporter  of  every 
item  in  their  programme.  With  admirable  persistence 
George  Trevelyan  brought  forward  an  annual  Resolution 
for  extending  the  franchise  to  the  agricultural  labourer. 
The  Conservatives  could  not  be  expected  to  support  it,  and 
among  the  Whigs  Lowe  and  Goschen  were  its  declared 
opponents.  In  1877,  however,  it  was  blessed  by  Hartington, 
and  it  was  generally  recognised  that  the  next  Liberal 
Government  would  complete  the  work  of  1867.  The 
member  for  Liskeard  supported  the  demand,  but  refused  to 
vote  for  it  unless  accompanied  by  minority  representation. 
After  the  Resolution  had  been  proposed  and  seconded  by 
Trevelyan  and  Dilke  on  March  4,  1879,  he  explained  why 
he  could  not  support  them  in  the  lobby.  The  county 
franchise,  he  believed,  was  bound  to  come,  but  he  could  not 
desire  it  in  the  form  presented  by  his  friends.  Trevelyan's 
speeches  showed  no  perception  of  the  great  and  growing 
evils  which  infested  their  electoral  system.  Almost  the 
whole  party  had  now  been  won  over ;  but  enfranchisement 
was  not  representation.  He  would  be  delighted  to  see 
Joseph  Arch  in  the  House,  but  would  they  get  him  by  the 
proposed  machinery  ?  If  they  wished  the  newly  enfran- 
chised classes  to  obtain  not  only  the  vote,  but  representation, 
not  only  the  shadow,  but  the  substance,  they  must  adopt  a 
new  plan.     This  distinction  between  enfranchisement  and 

148  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap,  vii 

representation  seemed  mere  pedantry  to  his  Radical  friends. 
"  Courtney  declined  to  support  the  motion,"  wrote  Sir 
Wilfrid  Lawson,  "  as  it  did  not  deal  with  the  representation 
of  minorities.  But  three  days  later  he  moved  a  resolution 
in  favour  of  enfranchising  women,  even  without  the  minority 
matter  being  first  attended  to.  How  hard  it  is  for  even  the 
most  honest  and  able  of  men  (and  he  is  one  of  them)  always 
to  keep  an  even  keel  on  poUtical  voyages  !  "  ^ 

The  autumn  and  winter  of  1879  brought  no  rehef  to 
the  tension  of  pubHc  affairs.  The  Afghan  campaign  was 
followed  with  anxious  interest.  The  failure  of  the  Irish 
crops  led  to  the  foundation  of  the  Land  League  by  Michael 
Davitt,  and  British  industry  was  in  the  trough  of  the  sea. 
A  month  before  Christmas  Gladstone  opened  his  Midlothian 
campaign  against  the  Dictator  who  had  kept  the  country 
in  a  fever  of  excitement  with  wars  and  rumours  of  war. 
When  ParUament  met  on  February  5,  1880,  it  was  under 
the  shadow  of  the  impending  election,  and  after  a  month  of 
listless  debates  a  dissolution  was  announced.  The  Prime 
Minister  issued  a  Manifesto  against  Home  Rule  in  a  letter 
to  the  Lord  Lieutenant  of  Ireland  which  served  as  his 
Election  Address  ;  but  Home  Rule  was  not  before  the 
country,  and  the  electorate  voted  on  the  record  of  the 
Government.  The  cold  fit  had  followed  the  hot  fit,  and 
the  prophet  of  Imperiahsm  was  hurled  from  power  by  the 
Liberal  leader  whose  windows  had  been  smashed  in  1878 
by  the  Jingo  mob. 

*  Russell,  Life  of  Sir  W.  Lawson,  p.  142. 



No  soldier  in  the  Liberal  army  detested  the  Beaconsfield 
policy  more  heartily,  or  threw  himself  into  the  fray  with 
greater  zeal  or  confidence,  than  Courtney.  A  preliminary 
skirmish  took  place  in  the  Fortnightly  Review,  to  which  he 
contributed  a  fighting  article  entitled  "  Turkish  Fallacies 
and  British  Facts."  ^  It  must  now  be  confessed,  he  began, 
that  those  who  had  striven  for  the  independence  and  in- 
tegrity of  the  Ottoman  Empire  had  been  false  guides. 
Great  Britain  should  have  followed  Gladstone's  advice  and 
joined  the  Great  Powers  or  even  Russia  alone  in  compelling 
the  Porte  to  accept  their  joint  counsels.  Had  war  resulted, 
which  was  improbable,  it  would  have  been  far  shorter  and 
less  sanguinary  than  that  which  had  occurred.  "  Men's 
lives  are  to  be  used  and,  when  necessary,  to  be  spent ;  and, 
if  the  cause  is  adequate,  I  am  ready  to  join  in  Wordsworth's 
sentiment,  '  Yea,  Carnage  is  God's  Daughter.'  "  All  that 
Great  Britain  had  achieved  was  to  water  down  the  Treaty 
of  San  Stefano,  to  the  detriment  of  the  Christian  subjects 
of  the  Sultan.  Our  poUcy  had  been  mainly  shaped  by  our 
fear  of  an  extension  of  Russian  power,  but  her  influence  in 
the  Near  East  was  very  much  greater  than  it  would  have 
been  had  we  co-operated  with  her  in  the  risks  and  glories 
of  emancipation.  Moreover,  our  intervention  after  a 
struggle  in  which  we  had  borne  no  part  had  merely  deepened 
the  resolution  of  Russia  to  pursue  her  southward  march. 
Instead  of  assisting  in  the  establishment  of  free  States,  we 
had  resisted  the  beneficent  change  and  endeavoured   to 

*  March  1880, 

150  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

cripple  its  efficiency.  Russia  took  upon  herself  the  whole 
duty  of  midwifery,  and  had  won  a  corresponding  degree  of 
gratitude  and  influence.  The  freed  States  felt  no  respect 
for  us,  and  the  Sultan  ostentatiously  manifested  disrespect. 
Such  were  the  bitter  fruits  of  the  Beaconsfield  dictatorship. 
"  Liskeard,"  writes  Lord  Fitzmaurice,  "  was  a  con- 
stituency peculiar  in  this,  that  to  the  last  the  majority  of 
the  electors  seemed  to  prefer  a  Liberal  who  was  of  an  in- 
dependent character,  the  sort  of  candidate  in  fact  whom 
the  party  wire-puller  does  not  love.  It  was  consequently 
much  sought  after  by  Liberals  of  rather  detached  opinions. 
In  1880  Courtney  had  to  fight  the  Rt.  Hon.  E.  P.  Bouverie, 
like  Horsman  a  severe  and  independent  critic  of  Mr.  Glad- 
stone and  in  earlier  days  of  Lord  Russell,  who  had  forced 
on  him  the  sobriquet  of  the  "  candid  friend."  The  contest 
between  these  two  so  very  similar  candidates  provoked 
much  amusement  and  some  heart-burnings,  and  it  was  said 
at  the  time  that  there  ought  to  have  been  two  Liskeards, 
one  for  Mr.  Courtney,  the  other  for  Mr.  Bouverie."  As 
there  was  unfortunately  only  one  Liskeard,  and  as  the 
country  clamoured  for  Gladstone,  there  was  never  much 
doubt  as  to  the  result. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

March  4. — I  suppose  you  are  all  more  or  less  excited  over 
Bouverie's  candidature.  If  he  persists  we  shall  beat  him  well ; 
but  he  may  still  prefer  to  try  Salisbury, 

March  23  (on  reaching  Liskeard). — Bouverie's  defeat  seems 
to  me  absolutely  certain.  I  shall  be  disappointed  if  the  majority 
against  him  is  less  than  80,  and  I  don't  think  it  will  be  so  low. 

The  seat  was  held  by  a  majority  of  69.  On  his  journey 
to  London  Courtney  met  W.  H.  Smith,  "  rejoicing  that  we 
had  a  good  majority  and  not  displeased  to  be  reUeved  from 
hard  work."  A  pile  of  congratulations  awaited  him,  among 
them  a  warm  letter  from  Lord  Granville,  who  had  shown 
him  more  attention  than  any  other  Liberal  leader.  Of 
greater  interest  was  a  communication  from  the  new  Prime 


From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

April  29,  1880. — I  have  the  pleasure  of  proposing  to  you 
that  you  should  permit  me  to  place  your  name  before  the  Queen 
as  Secretary  to  the  Board  of  Trade  under  the  Administration 
which  I  am  engaged  in  forming.  It  will  be  a  great  advantage 
to  us  to  have  the  aid  of  your  ability  and  energy  in  our  arduous 
work.  I  ought  to  add,  as  the  office  has  heretofore  been  on  a 
different  footing,  that  the  salary  will  be  £1200  a  year. 

Should  you  do  me  the  favour  to  accept,  please  to  let  the 
matter  remain  secret  until  I  have  had  time  to  lay  it  before 
Her  Majesty. 

The  reply  was  despatched  within  a  few  hours. 

To  W.  E.  Gladstone 

I  must  thank  you  very  heartily  for  the  kind  offer  you  have 
made  me  and  for  the  very  handsome  terms  in  which  it  is  couched. 
I  find  myself,  however,  compelled  to  ask  you  to  excuse  my  accept- 
ing it,  and  I  hope  you  will  forgive  me  if  I  frankly  explain  my 
reason.  It  is  simply  that  I  foresee  many  questions  must  soon 
come  before  Parliament  for  settlement  which  I  have  very  much 
at  heart,  and  I  think  I  shall  best  promote  them  as  a  friendly 
and  sympathetic  supporter  of  your  administration.  I  am 
drawn  most  reluctantly  to  this  conclusion,  as  I  should  have  been 
glad  to  have  proved  myself  capable  of  loyal  co-operation  in 
official  life. 

The  desire  for  a  free  hand  on  certain  outstanding  ques- 
tions, however,  was  neither  the  only  nor  the  principal 
reason  for  refusing  office. 

To  his  Father 

May  Day  1880. — I  have  but  a  very  little  time  to  write  as 
I  have  people  to  see  immediately,  but  I  have  a  bit  of  news  I 
think  you  would  like  to  know  and  ought  to  know.  On  Thursday 
evening  Mr.  Gladstone  sent  me  a  letter  offering  me  the  Secretary- 
ship of  the  Board  of  Trade.  I  was  a  good  deal  puzzled  what  to 
do,  but  after  the  best  consideration  and  such  consultation  as 
was  possible  I  sent  back  a  note  yesterday  morning  decUning  the 
offer.  The  Secretaryship  would  be  under  Chamberlain  as  Presi- 
dent, which  did  not  recommend  it,  but  I  could  and  should  have 
got  over  this  had  it  been  in  another  department.     At  the  Board 

152  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

of  Trade  there  is  not  Parliamentary  work  for  more  than  one  man, 
and  I  should  have  been  completely  effaced  for  a  couple  of  years 
or  so  without  any  advantage  in  the  way  of  official  experience. 
I  hope  this  will  not  displease  you.  Since  I  came  to  the  conclu- 
sion I  have  not  seen  reason  to  doubt  the  balance  was  struck  on 
the  right  side,  though  I  should  have  liked  the  other  way. 

John  Courtney  recorded  his  approval  of  the  decision  at 
the  foot  of  the  letter.  "  William  and  I,  after  hearing  the 
pros  and  cons,  think  with  Leonard  it  was  wiser  to  decline ; 
it  would  have  tied  his  tongue  in  the  House  and  reduced  him 
to  a  nonentity.     Pecuniarily  he  loses  nothing." 

A  few  details  of  the  crowding  events  of  the  past  month 
are  added  in  a  letter  to  his  oldest  friend,  now  a  leading 
figure  in  the  business  and  political  life  of  New  Zealand. 

To  Richard  Oliver 

May  4,  1880. — Telegrams  and  newspapers  will,  I  hope,  have 
explained  my  long  silence.  I  have  gone  through  a  contested 
election  and  a  Ministerial  crisis.  The  first  occupied  me  three 
weeks  or  more,  just  before  and  just  after  Easter.  My  opponent 
Bouverie  is  a  man  who  has  held  a  good  position  in  the  House 
of  Commons  in  the  past,  but  having  no  love  for  Gladstone  he 
tormented  him  a  good  deal  in  the  Parliament  of  1868-74  and 
was  rejected  at  the  dissolution  by  the  constituency  for  which 
he  had  sat  for  thirty  years.  Being  out,  he  fell  more  and  more 
behind  in  his  opinions,  and  he  opposed  me  as  a  moderate  Liberal 
not  disapproving  of  the  foreign  pohcy  of  Lord  Beaconsfield. 
I  was  never  anxious  about  the  result,  but  I  was  forced  to  remain 
continually  at  Liskeard.  The  end  of  all  was  a  victory  for  myself, 
and  a  great  victory  for  the  party — due,  as  I  believe,  to  a  general 
belief  that  Dizzy  was  adding  trouble  to  trouble.  The  voters  that 
swayed  around  did  not  object  to  the  immorality  of  his  poHcy, 
but  that  it  did  not  work  out  smoothly.  Gladstone  offered  me  a 
place,  that  of  Secretary  to  the  Board  of  Trade,  and  I  decHned 
it.  It  was  a  difficult  thing  to  decide,  but  I  beUeve  I  came  to 
the  right  conclusion.  I  should  have  been  Secretary  under 
Chamberlain  as  President,  and  he  is  not  the  man  I  should  select 
as  a  superior  ;  but  this  I  could  have  got  over  had  the  work  of 
the  department  been  sufficient  to  occupy  both  of  us.  It  is  not, 
and  the  result  would  have  been  that  I  should  have  been  com- 
pletely silenced  in  the  House  on  general  topics  (Parhamentary 
Reform,  South  Africa,  Ireland,  etc.)  without  the  compensating 

viii  THE  TREASURY  BENCH  153 

feeling  that  I  was  proving  my  capacity  for  departmental  work. 
My  own  people  fully  back  me  up  in  my  decision,  and  in  the 
House  of  Commons  it  seems  to  have  excited  a  certain  kind  of 
respect  and  admiration,  although  there  are  many  who  think 
that  every  man  should  take  the  first  footing  offered  him.  After 
I  refused  the  berth  it  was  offered  to  George  Trevelyan,  who 
declined,  and  it  was  then  accepted  by  Evelyn  Ashley. 

Further  light  is  thrown  on  the  formation  of  the  new 
Ministry  by  an  entry  in  Sir  Charles  Dilke's  Memoirs.  "  On 
May  I  I  had  John  Morley  to  dinner  to  meet  Chamberlain, 
who  was  still  sta5dng  with  me.  We  talked  over  the  men 
who  had  been  left  out.  Edmimd  Fitzmaurice  was  one,  but 
Mr.  Gladstone  did  not  care  about  having  brothers.  At 
Chamberlain's  wish  Courtney  had  been  offered  the  Secretary- 
ship of  the  Board  of  Trade,  which,  however,  he  declined. 
He  would  have  taken  the  place  of  Judge  Advocate  General, 
but  it  was  not  offered  him."  It  was  suggested  at  the  same 
dinner  that  Courtney  might  succeed  Sir  Henry  Drummond 
Wolff  on  the  Commission  for  Reforms,  appointed  under 
Article  23  of  the  Treaty  of  Berhn,  for  the  European  provinces 
of  Turkey  and  Crete  ;  but  the  place  was  eventually  filled  by 
Lord  Edmund  Fitzmaurice.^ 

Courtney  congratulated  himself  on  his  liberty  when  he 
discovered  from  the  Queen's  speech  that  the  new  Govern- 
ment had  resolved  to  retain  the  Transvaal ;  and  on  the 
second  day  of  the  debate  on  the  Address  he  wrathfuUy 
challenged  the  volte-face.  Had  not  the  new  members  in 
their  election  campaign  denounced  the  conduct  of  the  late 
Government  in  South  Africa  ?  Yet  they  were  asked  to 
support  in  Parliament  what  they  had  condemned  in  the 
country,  "  The  Boers  will  not  be  able  to  understand  this 
change.  They  will  ask  why  their  wrongs,  which  were  made 
so  much  of  a  few  months  ago,  are  not  even  recognised  now." 
Moreover  in  the  course  of  debate  it  was  announced  that  Sir 
Bartle  Frere  was  to  remain  at  his  post,  though  only  a  year 
ago  Sir  Charles  Dilke  had  moved  for  his  recall  and  every 
member  of  the  new  Cabinet  had  voted  for  it  The  Radicals 
had  no  intention  of  allowing  the  matter  to  rest.     "  On 

^  Life  of  Dilke,  i.  316-17. 

154  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

May  24,"  writes  Sir  Charles  Dilke/  "  I  found  that  Courtney 
and  my  brother  (Ashton  Dilke),  with  Dr.  Cameron  and 
Jesse  Collings,  were  getting  up  an  attempt  to  coerce  the 
Colonial  Office  and  Mr.  Gladstone  by  preparing  a  list  of 
between  one  and  two  hundred  members  who  would  vote 
with  Wilfrid  Lawson  for  a  censure  on  the  Government  for 
not  recalling  Frere.  Childers  had  found  that  it  would  be 
easy  to  recall  him,  for  Frere  had  said  that  he  would  only  go 
out  for  two  years,  and  the  two  years  were  over.  No  doubt 
Frere,  while  blameworthy  for  the  Zulu  war,  was  not  respon- 
sible for  the  Transvaal  business  ;  but  with  our  people  he 
received  the  whole  discredit  for  all  that  went  wrong  in  South 
Africa,  and  it  was  impossible  to  wonder  at  it  when  one  re- 
called the  language  that  he  habitually  used,  Frere  was 
protected  by  Mr.  Gladstone,  and  allowed  to  remain,  a  mistake 
for  which  we  very  gravely  suffered."  The  Memorial  to 
the  Prime  Minister,  set  on  foot  by  Comtney  and  Dillwyn  and 
signed  by  about  ninety  Members  of  Parliament,  was  sent  in 
on  June  3.  "  We,  the  undersigned  members  of  the  Liberal 
party,  respectfully  submit  that  as  there  is  a  strong  feeling 
throughout  the  country  in  favour  of  the  recall  of  Sir  Bartle 
Frere,  it  would  greatly  conduce  to  the  unity  of  the  party  and 
reheve  many  members  from  the  charge  of  breaking  their 
pledges  to  their  constituents  if  that  step  were  taken."  ^ 
The  first  three  signatures  were  Dillwyn,  Wilfrid  Lawson 
and  Courtney.  The  Cabinet  deferred  its  decision  on  the 
ground  that  the  Cape  Parliament  was  shortly  to  discuss  the 
problem  of  federation. 

While  Downing  Street  was  waiting  for  Cape  Town,  the 
Boer  leaders  despatched  an  urgent  memorandum  to  Courtney 
in  support  of  his  demand  for  the  recall  of  Frere. 

From  Kruger  and  Jouhert 

Capetown,  June  26,  1880. — We  beg  leave  again  to  send  you 
some  particulars  relating  to  the  state  of  affairs  here.  In  the 
Friday  sitting  of  the  House  of  Assembly  the  Jingo-imperial 
policy  received  a  deadly  blow,  to  our  great  satisfaction  because 
this  result  may  lead  to  a  better  understanding  at  home  how 

^  Life  of  Dilke,  i.  319.         *  Martineau,  Life  of  Sir  Bartle  Frere,  ii.  391. 

viii  THE  TREASURY  BENCH  155 

utterly  wrong  and  how  impossible,  how  full  of  evil  consequences, 
that  policy  is.  The  Zulu  war  was  a  strong  lesson,  but  although 
it  poured  down  streams  of  blood,  and  with  a  very  few  exceptions 
was  as  dishonourable  as  it  was  disastrous,  this  lesson  was  not 
powerful  enough  to  force  the  Home  Government  to  enter  into 
a  new  and  better  way.  They  maintained  Sir  Bartle  Frere,  they 
denied  any  rights  to  the  Transvaal,  believing  that  the  great 
statesman  would  be  able  to  prepare  the  panacea  for  all  the  evils 
in  South  Africa.  This  panacea  was  the  Confederation  of  the 
colonies  in  South  Africa.  Sir  Bartle  Frere,  although  not  the 
intellectual  author  of  this  scheme,  certainly  may  be  called  its 
great  advocate.  He  was  and  is  continually  arguing  not  only 
the  advisability  of  this  scheme  but  the  practicability,  moreover 
contending  that  it  is  universally  desired  and  applauded. 

We,  taking  it  to  be  our  duty,  attempted  all  legal  means  in 
order  to  frustrate  the  scheme  of  a  Conference.  The  only  safety- 
valve  for  our  country  is  the  restoration  of  our  independence. 
We  are  prepared — when  right  prevails  again  in  the  Transvaal — 
to  consider  all  reasonable  proposals  for  a  closer  union  with  the 
colonies.  It  is  well  known  that  the  Republic  repeatedly  and  in 
several  resolutions  has  given  expression  to  the  same  view.  So 
did  again  the  people  in  their  mass-meeting  of  December  last. 
But  so  long  as  the  annexation  is  not  rescinded  we  will  do  all 
we  can  to  frustrate  any  scheme  of  the  Imperial  Government. 
England  must  come  to  the  conviction  that  there  is  a  great  wrong 
here.  The  confidence  in  Sir  Bartle  Frere  wiU  by  this  time  be 
utterly  shaken.  It  cannot  be  longer  denied  that,  so  far  as  regards 
the  Transvaal,  Sir  Bartle  Frere  is  guilty  of  premeditated  false- 
hood and  mystification.  Look  at  his  despatch  to  the  Colonial 
Secretary  of  the  i8th  of  June  1879,  reading  as  follows:  "The 
great  majority  of  the  farmers  whom  I  met  with,  even  of  those 
who  had  assisted  at  the  large  meetings  of  the  Boers,  did  not 
wish  the  Republic  back."  Of  all  English  officials  honouring  the 
Transvaal  with  their  visits,  no  one  raised  such  a  deep  and  intense 
feehng  of  distrust,  and  no  EngHsh  statesman  stirred  up  the 
hatred  of  our  countr3mien  against  English  government  more 
than  Sir  Bartle  Frere.  Really  we  are  of  opinion,  if  it  was  not 
for  him.  South  African  difficulties  would  not  have  been  heard 
of.  All  over  South  Africa  reigns  a  general  feehng  of  harmony ; 
we  are  ripe  and  adapted  for  a  closer  union  ;  we  are  strong 
enough  and  (we  beg  most  humbly  pardon  :  Aborigines  Society  !) 
Christianlike  enough  to  conduct  the  government  of  the  natives 
in  a  strong  and  rightful  way.  But  the  system  has  sown  the  seeds 
of  animosity  and  hatred  between  Englishmen  and  Africanders. 

156  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

If,  at  the  time  of  our  difficulties,  they  had  assisted  us  in  a  fair 
and  generous  way,  the  grateful  people  would  have  been  ready 
for  great  sacrifices.  Yes,  even  now,  let  a  generous  poUcy  towards 
us  be  followed,  and  we  assure  you  the  people  wiU  be  found 
inclined  to  meet  you.  We  apologise,  dear  Sir,  for  having  taken 
perhaps  a  valuable  portion  of  your  time,  but  we  trust  most 
sincerely  that  you  will  further  aid  and  assist  us. 

A  month  after  this  letter  was  written  the  Dutch  in  Cape 
Colony  made  it  clear  that  they  would  never  support  a  policy 
detested  by  the  Transvaal,  which  demanded  the  restoration 
of  its  independence.  Federation  being  thus  indefinitely 
postponed,  the  Cabinet  finally  resolved  to  recall  Frere.  To 
the  end  of  his  Ufe  Courtney  looked  back  with  satisfaction  on 
his  share  in  the  recall  of  a  man  who,  despite  his  high  character 
and  attractive  personaUty,  incarnated  for  him  the  spirit  of 
aggressive  ImperiaHsm.  After  gaining  his  way  on  the  minor 
issue  he  returned  to  the  larger  problem  of  the  Transvaal ; 
and  at  the  close  of  the  session  he  solemnly  adjured  the 
Government  to  undo  the  error  of  their  predecessors.  It 
would  be  more  wise,  dignified  and  honourable,  he  declared, 
to  renounce  the  authority  we  had  assumed.  They  all 
admitted  the  annexation  to  have  been  a  mistake.  (No  ! 
No  !)  Then  it  must  be  branded  by  a  stronger  name.  At 
the  Cape  and  Natal  there  was  the  same  conviction,  shared 
even  by  those  who  had  been  foremost  in  applauding  the 
act  and  even  by  those  who  had  vehemently  urged  it.  There 
had  been  a  revulsion  of  feeUng  in  South  Africa,  for  some 
new  facts  had  emerged.  President  Burgers,  for  instance, 
had  received  a  pension  of  £500.  The  repugnance  of  the 
Boers  to  foreign  control  was  invincible.  He  would  be  told 
by  the  Colonial  Office  that  the  Boers  were  toning  down  and 
would  recognise  accomphshed  facts.  They  had  heard  such 
statements  over  and  over  again  ;  but  they  had  always  been 
falsified.  The  Government  had  never  dared  to  convene  the 
Volksraad.  He  held  in  his  hand  a  Memorial  to  the  Prime 
Minister  signed  by  6000  Boers  begging  him  to  restore  liberty 
to  the  Transvaal ;  but  when  the  signatories  heard  that  he 
had  changed  his  mind,  they  refused  to  send  it  to  him,  and 
it  had  been  forwarded  to  himself.     "  We  cannot  have  a 


federation  with  an  unwilling  State  forming  part.  The  spirit 
of  interference  with  institutions  which  are  not  ours,  because 
they  do  not  come  up  to  our  standard  of  excellence,  is  folly. 
We  are  told  that  if  we  retire  we  shall  leave  confusion  and 
anarchy  ;  but  did  that  consideration  prevent  our  retirement 
from  Afghanistan  ?  "  It  was  a  slashing  indictment,  the 
effect  of  which  was  increased  by  the  statement  of  Sir  Michael 
Hicks-Beach,  the  late  Colonial  Secretary,  that  he  was  perfectly 
satisfied  with  the  pohcy  of  his  successor  Lord  Kimberley. 

The  session  only  lasted  from  the  middle  of  May  till  the 
beginning  of  September.  The  first  skirmishes  were  fought  on 
the  election  of  Bradlaugh,  which  puzzled  men  of  conscience 
Hke  the  Prime  Minister  and  gave  scope  to  the  sharp-shooters 
of  the  Fourth  Party.  Courtney,  who  was  never  in  doubt  as  to 
his  own  course,  looked  on  the  conflict  with  disgust  and  in- 
dignation. He  voted  for  permission  to  affirm,  and,  when  this 
course  was  forbidden  by  the  Court,  he  voted  for  permission 
to  take  the  oath.  When  this  was  also  forbidden,  he  de- 
manded that  the-  law  must  be  altered  to  allow  any  member 
to  make  an  affirmation,  and  told  his  constituents  that  he 
could  not  understand  how  any  Liberal  could  take  part  in 
excluding  a  duly  elected  representative  on  account  of  his 
atheistical  opinions.  A  far  greater  anxiety  for  the  new 
Government  was  the  distress  and  discontent  of  Ireland, 
which  was  intensified  by  the  increase  of  evictions  and  by  the 
Lords'  rejection  of  the  Compensation  for  Disturbance  Bill. 
The  Land  League  promptly  retahated  by  the  invention  of 
the  boycott,  and  the  Chief  Secretary,  Forster,  spent  the 
autumn  in  grapphng  with  hunger,  outrage  and  despair. 
Courtney  had  visited  Ireland  in  1868,  but  he  now  determined 
to  devote  his  autumn  hohday  to  a  tour  through  the  disturbed 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

September  8,  1880, — I  have  promised  to  go  to  Liverpool  to 
open  the  Junior  Reform  Club  next  Thursday,  and  shaU  probably 
leave  here  the  day  before.  Being  asked  in  this  way  is  a  great 
compliment.  Lord  Northbrook  had  undertaken  to  open  the 
Club,  but  the  Session  lasted  so  long  that  he  is  only  now  visiting 
the  Dockyards.     If  the  reports  from  Penzance  continue  good 

158  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

I  think  I  shall  venture  to  run  over  to  the  west  of  Ireland  for  a 
fortnight,  and  I  have  written  asking  Roby  whether  he  will  go. 
The  reports  in  the  newspapers  about  appointments  are  all 
premature,  and  I  think  they  may  perhaps  be  traced  to  Fawcett, 
who  conceived  the  arrangement  more  than  a  month  ago.  From 
what  I  hear  my  appointment  as  Secretary  of  the  Treasury 
would  be  approved,  but  I  doubt  whether  Gladstone  would  offer 
it  to  me.  This  is  one  of  those  offices  which  do  not  vacate  a  seat, 
so  there  would  be  no  re-election.  Last  week  and  the  week  before 
I  was  dining  in  Ministerial  circles — last  Tuesday  at  Harcourt's, 
where  everybody  but  myself  was  in  the  Ministry,  and  the 
previous  Wednesday  at  Henry  James',  where  all  were  Ministers 
except  young  Spencer  and  myself.  The  said  young  Spencer  is  Lord 
Spencer's  half-brother  and  presumptive  heir — one  of  the  youngest 
Members  of  the  House,  who  dehghts  us  all  with  his  collars  and 

Roby  was  not  available  for  the  Irish  tour  ;  but  an 
excellent  substitute  was  found  in  David  Wedderburn. 
Courtney's  observations  and  reflections  were  recorded  in  two 
articles  written  for  an  American  Review,  and  were  explained 
in  speeches  delivered  during  the  autumn  recess.  He  sur- 
veyed the  work  of  the  new  Government  in  an  address  at 
Liverpool.  He  confessed  that  he  had  not  been  distinguished 
for  unbroken  submissiveness ;  but  in  voting  against 
Ministers  he  had  always  been  a  sincere  and  helpful  friend. 
No  function  could  be  more  useful  than  that  of  encouraging 
them  to  their  best  efforts.  No  Government  could  be  strong 
unless  it  was  thus  pressed,  just  as  a  Member  of  Parliament 
needed  energetic,  troublesome  men  among  his  constituents 
who  would  keep  their  representative  in  the  right  path. 
Despite  occasional  mistakes,  moreover,  the  Ministry  could 
show  a  very  creditable  record.  "  The  late  Government  has 
brought  us  into  trouble  in  every  quarter  of  the  world  and 
left  our  domestic  affairs  in  the  greatest  disorder.  Whether 
we  look  to  Europe,  Asia,  Africa,  to  trade  at  home  or  to  the 
condition  of  Ireland,  you  find  enough  to  reduce  an  incoming 
Ministry  to  something  Uke  despair."  What  then  had  the 
new  Government  done  ?  In  Asia  they  had  had  the  magnifi- 
cent courage  to  evacuate  Afghanistan.  Sir  Bartle  Frere 
was  on  his  way  back  to  England.     In  the  Near  East  they  had 


reversed  the  policy  of  their  predecessors  and  were  about  to 
obtain  for  Montenegro  her  rights  under  the  Treaty  of  Berlin. 
The  gravest  problem  which  now  confronted  them  was  Ireland. 
To  acquiesce  in  whatever  she  asked  was  to  treat  her  as  foolish 
mothers  treat  foolish  children.  Under  no  circumstances 
could  Home  Rule  be  accepted.  Peasant  proprietorship  was 
sometimes  proposed ;  but  a  far  better  plan  would  be  the 
judicial  fixing  of  rent,  with  free  sale  and  security  against 
eviction.  Accompanied  by  a  Local  Government  Bill  it 
would  remove  the  demand  for  Home  Rule,  and  discontent 
would,  he  beheved,  disappear. 

A  week  or  two  later,  in  an  address  to  his  constituents, 
he  dealt  more  fully  with  the  Irish  question.  He  invited 
sympathy  with  the  statesman  who  had  done  so  much  for 
Ireland  in  1869  and  1870,  and  who  now,  on  returning  to 
office,  found  the  country  in  a  worse  condition  than  ever. 
Drawing  on  his  recent  experiences  in  the  west  he  described 
the  uneconomic  holdings,  the  misery,  the  filth,  the  boy- 
cotting. His  prescription  for  the  suffering  patient  was  two- 
fold. On  the  one  hand  the  arm  of  the  executive  should  be 
strengthened.  Habeas  Corpus  should  be  suspended  where 
necessary,  and  fire-arms  should  be  prohibited  ;  on  the  other 
land  reform — fixity  of  tenure,  fair  rents  and  free  sale — should 
be  pushed  on,  local  government  should  be  developed,  and 
the  State  should  assist  emigration  to  Canada.  There  was 
no  need  for  despair  and  stiU  less  for  Home  Rule,  which  would 
reduce  the  country  to  its  phght  before  the  great  famine. 
This  address  set  forth  the  programme  which  the  speaker  was 
to  advocate  for  the  next  twenty  years. 

It  was  an  open  secret  that  Courtney  had  been  offered  a 
post  on  the  formation  of  the  Government,  and  his  transfer 
to  the  Treasury  Bench  was  universally  and  in  some  quarters 
impatiently  anticipated.  "  I  am  stiU  unhappy  at  their 
meeting  Parhament  with  Courtney  out  in  the  cold,"  wrote 
Lord  Acton  from  Cannes  to  Mary  Gladstone  on  December 
14.1  Ten  days  later  he  was  offered  the  post  of  Under- 
Secretary  for  the  Home  Office  ;  and  this  time  the  invitation 
was  conditionally  accepted. 

^  Letters,  p.  40. 

i6o  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

To  W.  E.  Gladstone 

Penzance,  December  25. — Your  letter  was  delivered  to  me 
yesterday  evening  just  before  I  left  London,  and  I  must  ask 
you  to  excuse  me  for  not  having  replied  to  it  on  the  spot.  I 
am  sincerely  grateful  to  you  for  offering  me  a  second  time  an 
opportunity  of  joining  your  Administration,  and  I  have  great 
pleasure  in  accepting  the  same,  with  many  thanks  for  the  kind 
consideration  of  your  reference  to  Ireland.  There  is  another 
subject  to  which  I  trust  you  will  allow  me  to  refer.  The  question 
of  the  Transvaal  has  in  due  course  entered  upon  a  new  phase, 
now  that  the  Boers  are  organised  in  opposition  to  our  rule.  My 
opinions  on  this  subject  remain  as  I  expressed  them  near  the 
end  of  last  Session,  when  I  urged  a  frank  acknowledgment  of 
the  error  of  annexation,  and  an  abandonment  of  the  impossible 
task  of  coercing  the  Boers.  Holding  these  views,  I  would  ask 
to  be  allowed  to  absent  myself  from  any  division  that  may  be 
raised  on  our  policy  in  the  Transvaal.  I  simply  ask  for  the 
privilege  of  a  silent  abstention. 

The  permission  was  promptly  and  graciously  accorded. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

December  27,  1880. — I  have  received  your  note  with  pleasure. 
Your  request  about  the  Transvaal  is,  I  think,  altogether  reason- 
able ;  and,  although  a  certain  amount  of  inconvenience  must 
always  arise  on  both  sides  in  such  cases,  I  have  no  hesitation 
in  at  once  acceding  to  it. 

"  I  had  borne  my  testimony  and  freed  my  conscience," 
explained  Courtney  to  his  constituents  ;  "  and  it  appeared 
to  me  that,  having  done  so,  there  was  no  longer  an  obstacle 
to  accepting  office.  If  it  were  true,  as  the  agents  of  the 
Government  asserted,  that  the  Boers  were  reconciled, 
then  we  should  have  peace.  If,  as  I  surmised,  they  were 
still  irreconcileable,  the  future  would  declare  itself."  It  was 
a  source  of  keen  satisfaction  to  the  new  Minister  that  his 
father  was  stiU  alive  to  witness  his  success.  A  few  weeks 
later  John  Courtney  passed  away  at  the  age  of  seventy- 
seven.  On  his  return  from  Penzance  the  new  Minister 
settled  down  to  work  at  the  Home  Office  under  his  chief 
Sir  William  Harcourt. 

viii  THE  TREASURY  BENCH  i6i 

-  To  his  sister  Margaret 

January  3,  188 1. — Here  is  my  first  letter  on  official  paper. 
I  come  over  here  about  i  p.m.,  that  being  the  hour  fixed  by 
Harcourt,  who  was  out  of  town  yesterday.  I  have  made  myself 
free  of  the  office,  appointed  a  private  secretary,  had  an  interview 
with  Sir  Edward  Ducane,  going  over  the  Prison  Estimates  with 
him  and  Harcourt,  and  otherwise  transacted  business.  I  found 
no  end  of  letters  of  congratulation  on  Saturday  evening,  more 
at  the  Reform  Club  yesterday,  and  more  at  Queen  Anne's  Gate 
and  here  again  to-day. 

January  12. — I  am  now  regularly  at  work  and  cannot  say 
I  find  it  very  exhausting,  while  it  is  sufficiently  interesting. 
I  come  somewhere  between  11  and  12,  and  if  the  House  is  sitting 
I  go  at  4,  otherwise  between  5  and  6.  Work  is,  however,  slack 
just  now,  as  all  Parliamentary  business  is  shut  off  through  the 
pressure  of  Irish  work,  and  I  doubt  whether  the  Home  Office 
will  pass  any  Bills  this  session.  I  dined  at  Gladstone's  this 
day  week.  This  was  not  done  without  difficulty  as  I  had  to 
get  an  official  uniform,  and,  the  time  being  so  short,  I  was  driven 
to  hire  one.  I  found,  however,  so  many  great  personages  had 
hired  such  things  before — the  Prime  Minister  himself  going  there 
one  afternoon  for  a  uniform  of  a  Captain  in  the  Navy  to  wear 
as  Elder  Brother  at  a  Trinity  House  dinner — that  I  was  greatly 
reheved ;  but  I  am  vexed  to  say  that  I  shall  have  to  hire  the 
suit  again  next  Wednesday  to  dine  with  the  Speaker — ^it  being 
impossible  to  do  the  embroidery  of  a  new  coat  under  a  fortnight. 
When  I  got  to  Gladstone's  nearly  all  were  assembled,  and  the 
door  being  then  shut  he  read  us  the  Queen's  Speech  ;  he  stood 
up,  as  indeed  we  were  all  standing,  with  a  candle  in  his  right 
hand  and  the  speech  in  his  left,  and  he  read  it  Hke  the  Funeral 
Service.  The  Speaker  standing  close  by  in  his  black  velvet 
coat  and  with  bent  head  seemed  chief  mourner.  You  saw 
O'Donnell's  question  on  Monday.  I  really  think  he  did  me  a 
service  without  intending  it,  for  when  I  rose  to  reply  there  was 
cheering  all  about,  and  more  hearty  and  prolonged  on  account 
of  this  question.^  The  congratulations  I  have  received  have 
been  innumerable,  and  I  think  my  appointment  has  given  general 
satisfaction  in  the  House. 

^  Question.  "  Whether  the  Under-Secretary  intends  this  year  to  bring 
in  a  motion  condemning  the  annexation  of  the  Transvaal. 

Answer.  "  I  have  done  that  so  often  that  I  think  the  House  must  be 
in  full  possession  of  my  views,  which  I  may  now  allow  to  be  tested  by 
the  logic  of  events." 


i62  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

The  storm  which  the  new  Minister  had  long  foretold  had 
broken  out  before  he  accepted  office,  though  the  news  had 
not  reached  London.  Gladstone's  denunciations  of  the 
annexation  of  the  Transvaal  had  naturally  raised  the  hopes 
of  the  Boers  that  he  would  rescind  it,  and  for  several  months 
they  waited  patiently  for  their  fulfilment.  The  Prime 
Minister,  however,  reluctantly  came  to  the  conclusion  that 
it  was  impossible  to  undo  the  past.  The  men  on  the  spot 
assured  him  that  the  Boers  were  becoming  reconciled  to 
British  rule ;  and  there  was  a  feehng  in  the  Cabinet,  not 
indeed  logical  but  none  the  less  powerful,  that  as  they  had 
resolved  to  withdraw  from  Kandahar,  British  prestige  com- 
pelled them  to  retain  Pretoria.  It  was  a  fatal  mistake,  as 
Gladstone  realised  when  the  Boers  rose  in  revolt ;  and  he 
promptly  reverted  to  his  earlier  principle  that  it  was  neither 
right  nor  wise  to  rule  over  unwilling  subjects.  Though 
the  soldiers  naturally  desired  that  the  conflict  should  be 
fought  to  a  finish,  the  Cabinet  promised  full  self-government 
to  the  Transvaal  if  the  Boers  would  accept  the  supremacy  of 
the  Queen,  and  refused  to  aUow  the  defeat  of  Majuba  Hill  to 
interrupt  negotiations. 

Courtney,  who  had  bargained  for  his  freedom,  refused 
to  support  the  Government  in  the  division  lobby  until  it 
had  determined  to  annul  the  annexation.  Meanwhile  the 
friends  of  the  Boer  cause  in  South  Africa  and  Holland  wrote 
to  him  in  protest  and  appeal ;  but,  as  an  Under-Secretary 
can  neither  determine  nor  criticise  the  policy  of  the  Govern- 
ment, he  could  offer  nothing  but  advice. 

From  G.  J.  Beeberts 

The  Hague,  January  22,  1881. — Our  Dutch  Committee  is 
daily  more  urgently  requested,  partly  from  here  but  much  more 
by  letters  from  England,  to  intercede  with  the  belligerent  Boers. 
We  are  urged  to  persuade  them  that  they  might  ask  for  peace, 
and  especially  that  they  might  escort  safely  to  Natal  the  be- 
leaguered garrisons  with  women  and  children.  Now  our  Com- 
mittee has  systematically  abstained  from  corresponding  with 
the  Cape  or  with  the  Boers.  We  thought  and  think  it  our  first 
duty  to  avoid  anything  which  might  endanger  the  cause  we  wish 


to  serve,  or  give  any  pretext  to  the  annexation  party.  On  the 
other  side  it  would  be  very  grievous  for  us  afterwards  to  think 
that  we  had  omitted  a  step  which  might  have  favoured  our 
cause,  and  which  we  were  advised  to  take  by  our  EngUsh  friends. 
In  every  respect  it  must  be  perfectly  clear  that  we  never  shall 
try  to  induce  the  Boers  to  lay  down  their  arms  unless  we  are 
absolutely  sure  that — after  due  satisfaction  made  and  pardon 
asked — full  independence  (no  autonomy  nor  protectorate)  shall 
be  the  result.  In  other  letters  we  are  asked  to  memorialise  our 
Government  in  order  that  it  may  offer  its  good  services  for 
mediation  or  the  Uke.  We  are  very  wilUng  to  do  so  ;  but,  if 
there  is  no  chance  whatsoever  that  the  offer  will  be  accepted, 
it  is  not  worth  while  trying.  For  these  reasons,  dear  Sir,  I 
venture  to  apply  to  you  and  beg  you  to  indicate  if  we  can  serve 
our  cause  by  acting  in  one  of  the  above  respects. 

To  G.  J.  Beeberts 

January  26,  1881. — I  find  it  extremely  difficult  to  reply  to 
your  letter,  and  there  is  indeed  one  declaration  in  it  which 
almost  disposes  of  the  possibiHty  of  a  reply.  You  write  "  it 
must  be  perfectly  clear  that  we  shall  never  try  to  induce  the 
Boers  to  lay  down  their  arms  unless  we  are  absolutely  sure  that 
— after  due  satisfaction  made  and  pardon  asked — full  independ- 
ence shaU  be  the  result."  It  is  at  present  impossible  to  give 
you  this  absolute  surety,  and  if  you  make  this  an  indispensable 
condition  nothing  can  be  done.  I  am,  however,  persuaded 
that  every  proof  of  self-control  on  the  part  of  the  Boers,  every 
instance  of  regard  to  the  rules  of  civiHsed  war,  every  act  of 
kindness  to  beleaguered  garrisons  or  to  women,  would  greatly 
tend  to  help  their  cause.  I  grieve  to  send  you  so  scant  a  letter, 
but  under  the  present  circumstances  I  can  do  httle  but  long 
that  the  great  scandal  of  our  contest  with  the  Boers  may  soon 
pass  away,  nor  can  I  suggest  any  steps  for  our  own  adoption. 

The  decision  of  the  Liberal  pilot  to  stick  to  his  course  in 
spite  of  Majuba  roused  his  new  colleague  to  rare  enthusiasm. 
"  I  rejoice  that  the  Government  adhered  to  their  proposals," 
he  told  his  constituents.  "  I  know  no  greater  instance  of 
Christian  conduct  on  the  part  of  any  Government  in  declaring 
that  the  shedding  of  English  blood  should  not  be  avenged. 
I  stamp  as  heathenish  and  horrible  the  assertion  that  we 
have  been  humiliated  because  we  did  not  insist  on  blood 

l64  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

for  blood.  I  say  on  the  contrary  that  we  have  been  glorified 
among  nations."  The  resolve  of  the  Cabinet  was  defended 
in  cooler  language  by  the  First  Lord  of  the  Admiralty,  who 
refused  to  accept  the  common  view  that  we  "  took  a  beating  " 
and  afterwards  treated  for  peace.  "  Negotiations  for  an 
honourable  settlement  had  been  begun  by  the  Boers," 
wrote  Lord  Northbrook,  "  and  accepted  by  us.  These 
negotiations  were  jeopardised  by  our  General  exceeding  his 
instructions.  The  only  right  course  for  the  Government, 
though  naturally  unpopular,  was  to  recognise  the  error  of 
their  General  and  to  continue  the  negotiations  as  if  that 
error  had  not  been  committed."  ^  On  the  other  hand 
Courtney  never  ceased  to  blame  the  Liberal  Cabinet  for 
causing  the  revolt  by  refusing  to  undo  the  annexation 
directly  they  came  into  power.  Had  his  advice  been 
followed  there  would  have  been  no  rising,  no  bloodshed,  no 
loss  of  prestige  and  no  fermenting  memories  of  martial 
triumph  in  the  breast  of  the  Boers. 

Though  Courtney  had  played  no  public  part  in  the  recent 
controversy  his  views  and  sympathies  were  generally  known 
in  South  Africa,  where  they  naturally  found  both  support 
and  antagonism.  He  was  violently  attacked  by  a  British 
settler  in  the  Transvaal  named  White  ;  and  when  in  a 
letter  to  the  Times  he  asked  for  proofs  of  the  whirhng 
charges,  no  reply  was  forthcoming.  Among  those  who 
throughout  approved  his  attitude  in  South  African  affairs 
was  the  distinguished  mathematician  and  Hebrew  scholar, 
like  himself  a  Fellow  of  St.  John's,  who  as  Bishop  of  Natal 
had  won  the  confidence  and  affection  of  the  natives  in  a 
degree  unapproached  by  any  other  white  man  of  his  time. 

From  Bishop  Colenso 

August  7,  1881. — We  hear  by  telegraph  from  England  that 
you  are  likely  to  succeed  Mr.  Grant  Duff  at  the  Colonial  Office. 
Most  sincerely  shall  I  rejoice  if  this  report  should  turn  out  to 
be  true.  But  in  any  case  I  am  sure  that  I  may  congratulate 
you  on  the  settlement  of  the  Transvaal  difficulty  without  further 
bloodshed.     The  terms  of  the  Convention  seem  to  be  upon  the 

^  Mallet,  Earl  Northbrook,  pp.  162-3. 


whole  as  good  for  all  parties — natives  included — as  could  have 
been  expected  under  the  circumstances,  though  the  Boers  have 
control  over  Sikukuni's  country  and,  I  am  sorry  to  say,  have 
also  been  awarded  a  part  of  the  Disputed  Territory  which  was 
given  to  the  Zulus  by  the  Border  Commission,  but  was  taken 
away  and  annexed  to  the  Transvaal  by  Sir  Garnet  Wolseley, 
which  he  would  never  have  done,  I  beUeve,  if  he  had  not  wished 
to  please  the  Boers  and  get  them  to  acquiesce  in  the  English 
rule.  However,  we  must  be  thankful  that  the  wrong  done  by 
the  annexation  has  been  to  so  large  an  extent  rectified,  and  the 
only  real  cause  for  regret  is  that  the  present  Government  were 
so  misled  by  the  information  they  received  from  high  officials 
on  the  spot,  that  they  lost  the  grand  opportunity  of  carrying 
out  from  the  first  the  retrocession  of  the  Transvaal  before  the 
disastrous  fighting  took  place. 

The  rumour  which  had  reached  the  Bishop  was  correct ; 
and  when  Mountstuart  Grant  Duff  was  appointed  Governor 
of  Madras  in  August  1881,  Courtney  succeeded  to  the  vacant 
post.  Now  that  the  barometer  in  South  Africa  pointed  to 
fair  he  had  no  longer  any  difference  with  the  Cabinet,  and 
he  welcomed  the  change  of  office  as  affording  him  a  wider 
opportunity  of  shaping  large  questions  of  policy.  A  further 
advantage  was  that  his  chief,  Lord  Kimberley,  was  in  the 
Upper  House.  As  the  session  was  almost  over,  the  Minister 
had  time  to  famiUarise  himself  with  his  new  duties  during 
the  recess. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

November  5,  1881. — Everything  is  going  on  quietly  here. 
I  come  to  the  office  day  after  day,  work  till  six  or  so,  and  a  dinner 
at  the  Club  with  Morley's  Cohden  for  evening  reading  finishes 
the  day.  On  Wednesday  I  dined  at  the  Club  with  the  said 
Morley,  Herbert  Spencer  and  Tyndall,  and  the  four  of  us  then 
went  to  the  St.  James's  Theatre. 

At  the  end  of  his  first  session  on  the  Treasury  Bench  the 
Minister  paid  his  usual  visit  to  Liskeard.  Its  main  legisla- 
tive achievement  was  the  Irish  Land  Bill,  creating  machinery 
for  the  fixing  of  fair  rents  for  a  term  of  years.  The  interven- 
tion of  the  State  between  landlord  and  tenant  horrified  a 
certain  school  of  opinion,  and  led  Lord  Lansdowne,  himself 

i66  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

an  Irish  landlord,  to  resign  his  post  in  the  Ministry.  To 
Courtney,  on  the  other  hand,  it  appeared  to  open  up  a 
prospect  of  reconciliation.  "  It  is  not  robbing  men  of  their 
property,"  he  told  his  constituents,  "  but  giving  men  what 
is  their  own.  It  will  operate  as  a  message  of  peace."  The 
process  of  improvement,  however,  would  be  slow,  for  nothing 
less  than  the  conversion  of  the  peasant  into  a  sober  and 
thrifty  citizen  was  needed. 

Friend  and  foe  agreed  that  the  House  of  Commons  was 
dominated  by  the  personaUty  of  the  Prime  Minister ;  and 
the  Colonial  Under-Secretary,  who  was  far  too  independent 
to  indulge  in  hero-worship,  sounded  a  note  of  warning 
against  leaning  too  heavily  on  the  veteran  commander. 
"  No  man  deserves  the  conj&dence  of  the  nation  better  than 
Gladstone,"  he  declared  at  Liskeard ;  "  but  though  we 
must  rejoice  in  his  strength  and  give  thanks  that  such  a 
man  has  been  raised  to  lead  us,  we  ought  to  be  ashamed  if  in 
his  absence  Liberal  principles  would  be  in  jeopardy.  I  am 
not  quite  sure  that  we  are  not  too  dependent  on  him.  We 
must  struggle  against  the  tendency  to  weaken  the  strength 
of  each  man's  wiU  as  the  unit  of  the  political  body  and  to 
make  us  too  dependent  on  the  leader  of  the  hour."  It  was 
a  curious  declaration  for  a  Minister ;  but  it  expressed  his 
hfe-long  conviction  that  it  was  the  duty  of  citizens  of  a 
self-governing  community  to  think  for  themselves.  In 
the  spring  of  1882  the  representation  of  East  Cornwall 
became  vacant,  and  Courtney  was  strongly  urged  by  his 
party  to  accept  it.  He  stoutly  refused  to  leave  Liskeard, 
and  held  to  his  ground  despite  the  combined  onslaught  of 
the  Prime  Minister  and  the  Chief  Whip.  The  contest  of 
wills  created  a  good  deal  of  interest,  and  the  harassing 
incident  was  narrated  in  a  long  letter  to  Penzance. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

March  17,  1882. — I  suppose  you  have  not  been  free  from 
the  excitement  which  has  surrounded  me  for  two  days  about 
East  Cornwall.  I  have  been  able  to  maintain  my  resolution, 
to  which  I  mean  to  adhere,  not  to  leave  Liskeard.  When  I  was 
first  asked  on  Wednesday  I  said  no.     I  was  against  the  proposal 


because  I  did  not  feel  sure  of  winning  the  county,  while  I  believed 
Bouverie  would  slip  in  for  the  borough.  I  left  the  House  to 
escape  worry,  but  was  pursued  by  a  note  from  Gladstone  urging 
me  to  accept  the  invitation,  to  which  I  repUed,  as  before,  we 
must  wait  for  Hawke.  Then  Hawke  ^  appeared  alarmed  at  the 
notion  of  my  leaving  Liskeard,  dead  against  it,  and  declaring 
that  our  best  friends  felt  dismay  at  the  prospect.  Then  an 
interview  between  Hawke  and  myself  and  Grosvenor,  respecting 
which  Hawke  said  to  me  on  coming  away,  "  that  man  is  mad." 
Then  an  interview  between  myself  and  Gladstone,  firm  and 
courteous  and  even  friendly,  but  intimating  that  in  his  opinion  I 
had  no  choice  as  a  member  of  the  party  and  still  more  of  the 
Government ;  and  I  demurring  and  decUning.  In  the  afternoon  I 
had  seen  John  Morley,  before  dinner  I  had  a  walk  with  Fawcett, 
and  later  a  talk  both  with  Chamberlain  and  Dilke,  all  of  whom  are 
stout  in  the  opinion  that  my  decision  is  right  both  as  regards 
myself  and  the  party.  This  morning  telegrams  and  messages 
have  been  flying  about  from  newspapers  and  from  persons 
wanting  to  stand  for  Liskeard.  I  have  seen  Hawke  again,  who 
is  greatly  relieved  and  delighted.  On  the  other  hand  Gladstone 
and  Grosvenor  are  both  sore,  and  may  try  to  press  me  again, 
and  it  is  possible — though  not,  I  think,  likely — that  I  may  have 
to  give  up  office,  a  result  I  should  receive  with  great  equanimity 
if  not  satisfaction. 

The  Prime  Minister  gave  vent  to  his  chagrin  in  a  brief 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

March  16,  1882. — I  have  received  your  note,  but  I  think  I 
ought  to  say  that  I  am  grievously  disappointed  at  its  contents. 

In  May  1882,  despite  the  controversy  about  East  Corn- 
wall, the  Prime  Minister  appointed  Courtney  Secretary  of 
the  Treasury,  a  post  vacated  by  the  promotion  of  the  ill- 
fated  Lord  Frederick  Cavendish  to  the  Chief  Secretaryship 
for  Ireland.  Of  the  three  Ministerial  offices  in  which  he 
served  the  latest  and  the  last  was  that  for  which  he  was 
best  fitted.  His  mathematical  training  and  his  studies  in 
political  economy  and  finance  had  already  marked  him  out 
for  Treasury  work,  and  led  observers  to  hail  in  him  a  future 

^  Chairman  of  the  Liskeard  Liberal  Association.  The  retention  of 
the  seat  by  a  Liberal  justified  Courtney's  decision. 

i68  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer.  One  admirer  compared  him 
to  Comewall  Lewis,  "  the  model  of  a  student-statesman." 
In  that  remote  age  the  Treasury  possessed  considerable 
authority,  and  was  staffed  by  men  deeply  imbued  with 
Gladstone's  conviction  that  its  main  task  was  to  prevent 
waste  and  extravagance.  With  this  spirit  the  new  Minister 
was  in  full  accord.  The  older  type  of  official  was  flattered 
when  the  spending  departments  accused  the  Treasury  of 
stinginess  and  obstruction,  and  Courtney  bore  the  protests 
and  rebukes  of  his  Ministerial  colleagues  with  serene  com- 
placency. It  was  a  thankless  task  to  hold  the  purse-strings, 
for  the  Treasury  never  receives  any  gratitude  from  the 
pubUc  ;  but  its  work  was  essential  to  the  financial  health 
of  the  State. 

"  When  he  became^ Secretary  to  the  Treasury,"  writes 
Lord  Eversley,^  "  I  was  at  the  head  of  the  Office  of  Works, 
and  we  often  came  into  conflict  on  questions  of  expenditure 
where  I  thought  that  he  exercised  too  rigid  a  control,"  His 
economy  was  naturally  more  appreciated  by  his  colleagues 
in  the  task  of  guarding  the  national  purse.  "  I  am  sorry  to 
say,"  writes  Sir  Algernon  West,^  "  that  I  am  the  only  one 
who  was  in  high  office  now  surviving  of  those  who  were 
brought  into  intimate  official  relations  with  him  at  that 
time.  I  was  Chairman  of  the  Board  of  Inland  Revenue 
and  had  many  opportunities  of  personal  intercourse  with 
him  and  of  learning  the  opinion  of  Lord  Welby  and  others, 
and  I  am  sure  that  I  correctly  interpret  their  opinion, 
which  coincides  with  my  own,  that  we  were  struck  not  only 
by  his  great  abiUty  but  by  the  very  remarkable  power  he 
displayed  in  his  thorough  mastery  of  all  the  questions 
coming  before  the  Treasury.  Sir  Francis  Mowatt,  who  was 
in  the  office  at  the  time,  entirely  agrees  with  what  I  say. 
I  very  distinctly  recollect  our  sincere  regret  at  his  resignation 
of  the  Secretaryship."  The  verdict,  is  confirmed  by  the 
testimony  of  his  old  friend  and  colleague.  Lord  Fitzmaurice. 
"  He  soon  obtained  the  reputation  of  being  the  sternest  of 
the  economists  who  had  occupied  the  post,  though  in  former 

^  Letter  to  the  author,  June  25,  1918. 
*  Letter  to  the  author,  August  i,  1918. 


years  it  had  been  held  by  Mr.  Baxter  and  by  Mr.  A5ni;on, 
who  were  believed  to  have  materially  contributed  to  the 
faU  of  Mr.  Gladstone's  first  administration.  It  became  the 
joke  to  say  that  whereas  formerly  Members  of  Parliament 
appealed  for  gentler  treatment  from  the  Permanent  Secre- 
tary, Sir  Ralph  Lingen,  to  the  Parhamentary  Secretary, 
now  the  appeal  had  to  be  from  the  Parhamentary  Secretary 
to  the  tender  mercies  of  Sir  Ralph  Lingen.  But  none  the 
less  I  never  heard  any  complaints  made  of  these  decisions 
being  embittered  by  those  graces  of  manner  which  had 
excited  such  furious  bitterness  at  an  earlier  period." 

Courtney  enjoyed  his  work  and  appreciated  the  humorous 
side  of  some  of  its  incidents,  one  of  which  is  preserved  in  the 
Diary  of  Grant  Duff.^  At  the  meeting  of  the  Breakfast 
Club  on  April  28,  1900,  "  Courtney  told  a  story  when  we 
were  talking  about  the  scandalous  way  in  which  some 
municipal  authorities  waste  the  money  of  the  ratepayers  by 
quite  unnecessary  journeys  to  London.  When  he  was 
Secretary  to  the  Treasury  a  deputation  from  Sligo  came  to 
him  to  urge  an  entirely  harmless  change.  Their  wish  was 
granted  immediately,  with  many  regrets  that  they  should 
have  taken  the  trouble  to  come  so  far  about  so  trifling  a 
concession,  which  a  couple  of  letters  would  have  settled. 
'  You  seem  to  forget,'  remarked  somebody  aside,  '  that 
to-morrow  is  Derby  Day.'  " 

The  Minister  never  learned  to  suffer  fools  gladly,  and  he 
took  public  work  too  seriously  to  dissemble  his  contempt  for 
Members  who  wasted  the  time  or  trifled  with  the  duties 
of  the  House.  Thus,  while  his  competence  was  beyond 
dispute,  he  was  not  one  of  the  most  popular  occupants  of 
the  Front  Bench.  "  It  is  the  opinion  of  some  of  his  friends," 
wrote  a  London  paper  in  a  series  of  articles  on  "  Coming 
Men,"  "  that  oflice  has  not  altogether  improved  Mr.  Courtney. 
If  it  is  an  exaggeration  that  he  has  become  overpoweringly 
official,  it  is  true  that  the  official  manner  of  the  Secretary 
of  the  Treasury  is  not  quite  all  that  could  be  desired.  It  is 
not  rude.  It  is  scarcely  curt.  But  it  is  irritating.  It  is 
not  always  soothing  work  to  gratify  the  curiosity  of  the 

*  Notes  from  a  Diary,  i8g6-igoi,  ii.  215. 

170  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

noble  army  of  bores,  and  such  a  man  can  have  no  sympathy 
for  the  small  fry  who  think  it  is  their  duty  to  badger  Ministers 
with  interrogations  on  every  possible  topic.  But  he  should 
seek  to  be  personally  popular." 

During  the  early  months  of  his  work  at  the  Treasury  the 
Financial  Secretary  enjoyed  an  unusual  degree  of  independ- 
ence, as  the  Prime  Minister  himself  discharged  the  functions 
of  the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer.  When  the  double 
burden  proved  too  heavy  for  advancing  years  Gladstone 
resigned  the  post,  and  offered  Courtney  the  Chairmanship 
of  Committees  if  the  new  arrangement  was  not  to  his  taste. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

December  8,  1882. — It  is  now  probable  that  Childers  will 
almost  immediately  assume  the  office  of  Chancellor  of  the 
Exchequer.  I  do  not  expect  that  this  will  surprise  you,  inas- 
much as  I  think  you  clearly  understood  on  taking  your  present 
office  that  a  Minister  of  Finance  proper  would  shortly  be  ap- 
pointed. If,  however,  this  change,  which  has  a  certain  influence 
on  your  position  (particularly  under  an  active  and  skilled 
administrator),  should  incHne  you  towards  quitting  it,  I  am  able 
to  say  that  I  should  be  happy  to  propose  you,  if  you  should 
desire  it,  as  successor  to  Playfair  in  his  important  and  difficult 
office,  which  you  have  shewn  an  admirable  capacity  to  fill. 

Courtney  preferred  to  remain  a  member  of  the  Ministry. 
He  was  on  excellent  terms  with  his  chief,  who  fully  appreci- 
ated his  accurate  mind  and  powers  of  work. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

December  14,  1882. — On  Tuesday  I  dined  very  pleasantly 
in  a  distinguished  locality — St.  James's  Palace  !  Algernon  West, 
the  Chairman  of  the  Inland  Revenue  Board,  has  some  small 
post  which  gives  him  rooms  there,  which  Mrs.  West  declares 
were  originally  the  coachman's  lodgings.  The  Prime  Minister 
was  in  great  force.  I  sat  in  the  middle  of  one  side  between  him 
and  his  wife,  and  the  evening  passed  very  gaily. 

His  friends  would  not  have  been  surprised  by  further 
promotion  at  any  moment ;  but  they  were  confident  that 
he  had  only  to  wait. 


From  John  Scott 

Bombay,  December  25,  1882. — In  all  the  recent  shif tings  of 
the  Ministries  I  thought  you  might  have  had  another  translation. 
But  you  have  had  so  many  that  I  must  not  expect  any  more 
yet.  No  man  is  more  certain  of  his  future,  so  your  friends 
cannot  grumble. 

In  the  spring  of  1883  the  Secretary  to  the  Treasury 
received  a  proposal  which  proved  that  his  financial  abilities 
were  recognised  in  the  highest  quarters. 

From  Lord  Kimherley 

May  9,  1883. — Can  I  induce  you  to  accept  the  post  of  Finan- 
cial Member  of  the  Indian  Government  in  succession  to  Major 
Baring,  who  is  to  succeed  Sir  E.  Malet  in  Egypt  ?  No  one 
would,  I  feel  sure,  fill  more  competently  than  yourself  the  very 
important  office  of  Finance  Minister  of  our  Indian  Empire.  If 
you  should  be  disposed  to  entertain  the  offer,  there  are  some 
poUtical  matters  pending  in  India  on  which  it  would  be  neces- 
sary that  we  should  have  a  clear  understanding  before  the 
appointment  is  made,  though  I  apprehend  we  should  have  no 
difficulty  in  agreeing  about  them.  The  salary  is  76,800  rupees. 
Baring's  appointment  is  at  present  a  secret,  and,  whether  you 
accept  or  not,  I  must  request  you  to  be  good  enough  not  to 
mention  the  subject  till  we  are  ready  for  a  public  announcement. 
I  write  with  the  full  concurrence  of  Mr.  Gladstone  and  Childers. 

The  salary  was  high,  the  task  would  have  been  congenial, 
and  he  was  on  friendly  terms  with  the  Viceroy,  Lord  Ripon. 
But  he  enjoyed  his  work  at  the  Treasury,  and  it  was  generally 
agreed  that  his  admission  to  the  Cabinet,  to  which  his  office 
was  the  recognised  stepping-stone,  could  not  be  long  delayed. 
To  leave  England  at  such  a  time  for  five  years  was  frankly 
impossible  ;   and  he  declined  the  offer  with  thanks. 

Members  of  a  Ministry  who  are  outside  the  charmed 
circle  of  the  Cabinet,  though  not  consulted  in  the  determina- 
tion of  policy,  are  expected  to  support  it  not  only  in  the 
division  lobby  but  in  the  country ;  and  if  they  are  unable 
to  do  so,  they  are  counselled  to  hold  their  tongue.  No  one 
ever  accused  the  Secretary  to  the  Treasury  of  disloyalty  to 

172  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

the  Government ;  but  on  his  autumn  visits  to  his  constitu- 
ency he  spoke  his  mind  freely  on  pubHc  affairs.  The 
Liberal  party  had  returned  to  power  in  1880  with  high 
hopes  of  useful  service  and  with  enthusiastic  confidence  in 
its  chief  ;  but,  to  the  chagrin  of  reformers,  the  attention  of 
the  Ministry  was  distracted  by  a  ceaseless  struggle  with  the 
forces  of  disorder  in  Ireland  and  by  recurring  crises  in  Egypt 
and  the  Sudan.  In  regard  to  the  former  Courtney  had 
nothing  but  approval  for  the  policy  of  the  Government, 
both  in  its  repressive  and  its  remedial  aspects.  He  watched 
the  operation  of  the  Land  Act  of  1881  with  eager  interest 
and  was  loud  in  praise  of  its  results.  "  It  is  a  monument  of 
pohtical  genius,"  he  declared  in  1883.  "  The  longer  it  is 
tried,  the  more  it  is  appreciated.  It  is  uprooting  the  cause 
of  trouble."  On  his  visits  to  his  constituents,  whatever 
other  topic  was  dominant  he  never  omitted  to  deal  with  the 
Irish  problem.  The  reform  of  County  Government  already 
occupied  a  leading  place  in  his  programme,  and  he  con- 
tinued to  urge  its  claims  on  both  parties  until  it  was  carried 
out  by  Mr.  Gerald  Balfour.  He  lost  no  opportunity  of 
reiterating  his  opposition  to  Home  Rule.  "  We  are  as 
man  and  wife,"  he  argued  ;  "  we  are  one,  not  two."  Un- 
fortunately Nationahst  Ireland  did  not  think  so ;  and 
before  very  long  he  was  to  learn  that  "  the  cause  of 
trouble  "  was  much  too  deep  to  be  eradicated  by  the  fixing 
of  judicial  rents. 

Courtney  had  strongly  supported  a  poHcy  of  military 
coercion  in  the  Near  East  with  a  view  to  emancipating  the 
Balkan  nationalities  who,  after  obtaining  their  independence, 
were  expected  to  look  after  themselves.  But  while  thus 
approving  intervention  for  a  disinterested  and  strictly 
hmited  object,  he  looked  with  suspicion  on  any  steps  that 
might  lead  to  the  annexation  of  foreign  territory  or  to 
the  further  increase  of  British  responsibiUties.  If  British 
subjects  chose  to  lend  their  money  at  high  interest  to  an 
extravagant  oriental  potentate,  they  must  bear  the  con- 
sequences and  not  expect  the  British  Empire  to  pull  the 
chestnuts  out  of  the  fire  for  them.  Turkey,  he  beHeved, 
ought  to  be  broken  up  as  quickly  as  possible,  and  its  com- 


ponent  parts  should  then  govern  themselves.  For  this 
reason  he  had  disapproved  the  deposition  of  the  Khedive 
Ismail  in  1879  by  his  suzerain  at  the  instigation  of  England 
and  France.  They  had  recognised  and  thereby  increased 
the  power  of  the  Sultan.  Why  could  they  not  have  left 
the  Egyptians  alone  and  allowed  them  to  stew  in  their  own 
juice  ?  The  deposition  of  Ismail,  whether  right  or  wrong, 
brought  no  more  than  temporary  relief  to  the  situation  ; 
for  his  son  and  successor  Tewfik  was  too  weak  to  cope  with 
the  rising  nationaUst  discontent  which  found  a  leader  in 
Arabi.  France  was  no  less  interested  in  the  peace  and 
solvency  of  Egypt  than  Great  Britain  ;  but  Gambetta,  who 
was  eager  to  co-operate  in  necessary  measures  of  coercion, 
was  succeeded  by  the  less  adventurous  Freycinet,  who 
desired  to  confine  French  action  to  a  defence  of  the  Suez 
Canal.  Even  this  limited  risk  was  not  to  the  taste  of  the 
French  Chamber,  and  in  the  summer  of  1882  Great  Britain 
intervened  alone.  The  Prime  Minister  was  no  enthusiast 
for  his  own  poUcy,  and  not  a  few  of  his  followers  in  Parha- 
ment  and  in  the  Press  were  either  lukewarm  supporters  or 
avowed  opponents. 

To  Miss  Potter 

July  12,  1882. — I  am  much  dissatisfied  with  Egypt,  and  not 
at  all  easy  about  my  position.  There  was  a  short  discussion 
this  afternoon  when  Lawson  spoke,  but  it  came  to  nothing. 

July  20. — The  Prime  Minister  has  announced  his  intention 
of  asking  for  a  vote  of  credit  on  Monday,  in  other  words  for 
money  to  support  some  kind  of  intervention  in  Egypt.  This  is 
not  the  worst  that  could  have  happened,  as  it  would  have  been 
intolerable  if  the  Sultan  had  been  brought  in  to  resume  a  direct 
authority.  It  is  better  that  we  should  undertake  the  task  than 
leave  it  to  the  Pashas  from  Constantinople  ;  but  the  outlook 
is  very  dark.  I  am  more  and  more  drawn  to  the  conclusion 
that  we  ought  to  have  allowed  the  Khedive  and  Arabi  to  settle 
their  relative  power  among  themselves,  simply  taking  care  of 
the  Canal  as  a  great  international  highway.  I  do  not  say  there 
are  not  excuses  or  even  justification  for  what  we  have  done  ; 
only  I  feel  the  wiser  course  is  the  one  I  have  pointed  out.  Since 
I  saw  you  Mr.  Bright  has  left  the  Ministry,  but  you  know  his 
views  are  not  mine.     He  objects  to  aU  war  as  wicked.     I  think 

174  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

wars  are  sometimes  just  and  necessary.  His  defection  will  set 
a  few  members  talking  who  have  hitherto  been  silent,  but  the 
criticism  of  the  Government  poUcy  in  the  House  of  Commons 
is  very  feeble.  I  am  told  that  all  the  newspapers  which  are 
specially  read  by  artisans  in  London  joined  last  week  in  condemn- 
ing the  bombardment  of  Alexandria.  My  friend  Scott,  like 
most  of  them  from  Egypt,  incHnes  to  the  opinion  that  we  ought 
to  have  taken  action  earlier. 

July  22. — I  have  had  a  long  talk  with  John  Morley.  He 
is  of  my  opinion  in  condemning  altogether  the  policy  we  have 
pursued  and  is  very  uncomfortable  about  it ;  but  he  thinks 
there  is  nothing  to  be  done  just  now  but  to  insist,  as  far  as  we 
can,  agcdnst  any  schemes  of  occupation  and  annexation. 

September  19,  1882,  Berlin. — It  was  in  Moscow  that  I  read 
the  telegraphic  announcement  of  the  complete  defeat  of  Arabi ; 
and  now  I  hear  that  the  luckless  man  is  a  prisoner  of  war  and 
that  Wolseley  is  at  Cairo.  The  Ministers  in  Cabinet  Council 
may  well  have  cheered  at  the  result ;  and  I  hope  now  the  struggle 
is  over  they  will  be  wise  enough  not  to  accept  the  government 
of  the  country  nor  to  bind  themselves  permanently  to  the 
Khedive.  We  shall  have  done  all  we  are  in  honour  bound  to 
do  if,  after  freeing  him,  we  give  him  a  fair  chance.  No  doubt 
the  issue  of  the  expedition  will  render  the  Government  stronger, 
at  least  for  a  time.  Did  you  hear  of  that  cynical  mot  of  Sir 
WiUiam  Harcourt  ?  "At  last  we  have  done  a  popular  thing  ; 
we  have  bombarded  Alexandria." 

On  returning  from  Russia  Courtney  hurried  down  to 
Cornwall  and  delivered  an  address  at  Torpoint.  The 
Government,  he  declared,  were  justified  in  suppressing 
Arabi,  who  was  no  true  representative  of  Egyptian  nation- 
ality and  was  endeavouring  to  establish  a  military  tyranny. 
We  should,  however,  be  culpable  if,  after  overthrowing  this 
tyranny,  we  did  not  respect  national  feeling  and  allow 
Egypt  to  govern  herself.  Not  government  by  Turkey,  or 
Arabi,  or  the  Powers,  but  Egypt  for  the  Egyptians  was  the 
policy  to  pursue.  The  Prime  Minister  rightly  desired  to 
co-operate  with  Europe  in  placing  the  country  imder  a 
European  guarantee,  supplying  it  with  representative 
institutions  and  then  leaving  it  to  work  out  its  own  salva- 
tion. We  should  tell  Tewfik  that  he  must  not  expect  to 
be  rescued  a  second  time  from  domestic  opposition,  for  we 


could  never  consent  to  uphold  a  ruler  against  the  will  of 
his  people.  We  should  look  after  the  Canal,  make  a  ring 
round  Egj^t  so  that  no  other  Power  should  interfere  in 
its  domestic  politics,  and  let  the  inhabitants  of  the  Nile 
Valley  stew  in  their  own  juice.  To  the  surprise  of  the 
world  we  had  withdrawn  from  Abyssinia  after  the  war  of 
1868  without  annexations.  If  we  now  withdrew  from 
Egypt,  after  setting  up  a  free  Government,  we  should  not 
have  intervened  in  vain.  Now  was  the  time  to  show  that 
England  wished  to  promote  the  freedom  of  other  countries 
and  had  no  desire  to  annex  a  yard  of  territory.  The  proof 
of  our  disinterestedness  would  be  completed  if  the  cost  of 
the  war  were  to  be  met  as  far  as  possible  by  the  bond- 
holders instead  of  by  the  fellaheen. 

The  speech,  with  its  clear-cut  policy  and  its  vigorous 
phrasing,  was  widely  reported  and  eagerly  discussed  during 
the  autumn  recess.  Chamberlain  wrote  to  congratulate  him 
on  his  frankness.  Lord  Sahsbury  referred  to  him  as  a  dis- 
tinguished man  who  stood  on  the  threshold  of  the  Cabinet, 
and  Lord  Granville  echoed  that  he  was  undoubtedly  a  man 
of  great  knowledge  and  great  ability.  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson, 
who  had  offered  uncompromising  opposition  to  intervention, 
broke  into  the  vigorous  doggerel  of  which  he  was  the 
acknowledged  master. 

{Vide  Courtney's  Speech  at  Plymouth) 

At  last  we  hear  from  Courtney's  lips 

The  Governmental  plan. 
Mysterious  are  all  thy  ways. 

Thou  wondrous  Grand  Old  Man  ! 

Let  quidnuncs  talk  of  what  they  please — 

This,  that,  and  t'other  thing — 
The  wisest  course  the  statesman  sees 

It  is,  to  make  a  ring. 

That  ring  must  be  composed  of  all 

The  bravest  and  the  best, 
Bring  Baker  Pasha  from  the  East 

And  Wolseley  from  the  West. 

176  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Bring  Sepoys  from  the  Indian  plains. 

Bring  Scots  from  moor  and  fell. 
Bring  Royal  Dukes  from  Windsor  towers 

And  Guardsmen  from  Pall  Mall. 

We  fought  like  heroes  all  men  knew. 

Hurled  death  from  all  our  triggers. 
Retrieved  the  status  ante  quo 

And  killed  five  thousand  niggers. 

That  traitor  Arabi  we  nailed — 

Loud  every  steeple  clanged — 
And  though  all  evidence  has  failed 

We  mean  to  have  him  hanged. 

The  whip's  at  work,  the  gaols  axe  full. 

The  bastinado  too  ; 
Thank  God  the  coupons  though  are  paid 

Whenever  they  fall  due. 

On  his  next  visit  to  his  constituents  early  in  the  follow- 
ing year  the  Minister  reiterated  his  policy  and  replied  to 
his  critics.  His  phrase  "  stewing  in  their  own  juice  "  had 
been  quoted  and  reprobated  ;  but  its  author  was  Bismarck, 
and  its  meaning  was  that  the  Egyptians  should  govern 
themselves  and  that  we  should  limit  our  commitments  by 
setting  up  a  power  that  could  take  care  of  itself.  The  advice 
he  had  tendered  at  Torpoint  had  been  followed.  There 
was  no  thought  of  restoring  the  power  of  the  Sultan.  The 
Canal  was  to  be  open  to  ships  of  war,  but  no  military 
operations  were  to  be  allowed  in  its  waters.  Lord  Dufferin 
had  drawn  up  a  scheme  for  the  representation  of  the  people 
which  would  serve  very  well  as  a  first  step.  We  had  now 
done  enough  both  for  the  Khedive  and  the  bondholders  and 
must  resist  further  temptation.  "  I  am  told  that  England 
cannot  tolerate  anarchy  in  Eg5rpt.  Why  not  ?  We  tolerate 
it  in  Mexico  and  other  parts  of  the  world.  This  notion  that 
we  must  go  anywhere  to  prevent  anarchy  must  be  fought 
against,  for  when  we  go  to  prevent  anarchy  we  create  it. 
The  whole  excuse  of  many  of  our  conquests  has  been  anarchy 
requiring  intervention,  and  the  excuse  for  maintaining  them 
is  that  anarchy  must  follow  our  withdrawal.  I  hope  there 
are  still  some  few  of  us  left  in  England  who  believe  in  the 

viii  THE  TREASURY  BENCH  177 

old-fashioned  doctrine  of  the  Liberal  party,  the  doctrine 
of  non-intervention.  We  should  not  interfere  unless  a  short 
and  swift  intervention  would  remove  the  cause  of  the 
disease,  which  being  removed,  the  country  would  be  left 
to  take  care  of  itself  again.  And  that  is  the  defence  of  our 
intervention  in  Egypt." 

The  views  of  the  Secretary  of  the  Treasury  were  shared 
by  the  Prime  Minister  and  Foreign  Secretary,  who  deplored 
the  Egyptian  entanglement  and  honestly  desired  to  escape 
from  its  meshes.  But  though  the  bondholders  had  few 
friends  among  the  British  democracy,  the  Cabinet  could 
not  leave  them  to  sink  or  swim  ;  and  the  promise  to  with- 
draw was  contingent  on  the  restoration  of  order  and  stable 
government.  Sir  Evel5m  Baring's  task  proved  to  require 
more  time  than  had  been  expected  ;  and  long  before  it  was 
accompHshed  a  school  of  thought  became  dominant  in 
Great  Britain  which  repudiated  the  doctrine  of  non-interven- 
tion and  evacuation,  and  plunged  boldly  into  the  game  of 
Weltpolitik  with  its  prizes  and  its  risks. 




On  March  15,  1883,  Courtney  was  married  to  Miss  Kate 
Potter.  Though  his  work  for  the  Times  had  brought  him 
a  good  salary,  there  was  no  considerable  surplus  available 
after  meeting  the  needs  of  his  family ;  and  by  the  time  he 
crossed  the  threshold  of  middle  age  he  had  resigned  himself 
to  a  bachelor  existence.  His  Ufe  was  filled  with  congenial 
occupation,  and  he  possessed  not  only  devoted  brothers 
and  sisters  but  a  wide  circle  of  friends.  Under  these 
circimastances  it  was  natural  that  a  considerable  period 
should  elapse  between  the  first  meeting  with  his  future 
wife  and  the  dawning  conviction  that  his  happiness  was  in 
her  keeping. 

From  her  childhood  Miss  Potter  had  enjoyed  the  privilege 
of  mixing  in  the  wide  world  of  society  and  poHtics.  Her 
father  was  a  Manchester  man,  the  son  of  the  first  Member  for 
Wigan  in  the  Reformed  Parliament.^  Turning  in  early  life 
from  law  to  business  Richard  Potter  joined  the  leading  firm  of 
timber-merchants  in  Gloucester.  When  the  news  of  the 
sufferings  of  the  allied  armies  m  the  Crimea  reached  England 
he  proposed  that  they  should  be  provided  with  wooden 
huts,  which  he  and  his  partner  Price  were  ready  to  supply. 
The  plan  was  approved  not  only  by  the  British  Government 
but  by  Napoleon  III.,  who  sent  for  him  and  gave  him  an 
order  on  the  spot.  The  flourishing  firm  established  branches 
in  Grimsby  and  Barrow  ;   but  timber  was  only  one  depart- 

"^  See    Georgina    Meinertzhagen,    From    Ploughshare    to    Parliament, 
chap.  XV. 



ment  of  Potter's  business  activities.  He  was  at  different 
times  a  Director  and  later  Chairman  of  the  Great  Western 
Railwaj^  a  President  of  the  Grand  Trunk  Railway  of 
Canada,  and  a  Director  of  the  Hudson's  Bay  Company. 
While  Price  was  a  Liberal  Member  of  Parliament,  Potter, 
who  began  as  a  Liberal,  had  become  a  Peelite  ;  and  though 
his  support  of  Free  Trade  drove  him  for  a  time  mto  the 
Liberal  camp,  he  returned  to  the  Conservative  party  when 
the  danger  of  Protection  was  removed.  He  stood  for 
Gloucester  in  1862,  but  was  beaten  by  28.  Though  he 
distrusted  Disraeli  scarcely  less  than  Gladstone  he  was  an 
active  worker  and  speaker  for  the  Conservative  cause  in 
Gloucestershire  till  he  was  stricken  with  paralysis  in  1885. 

In  1844  Richard  Potter  married  a  Miss  Heyworth  of 
Liverpool,  a  clever  girl  with  keen  intellectual  tastes.  Their 
only  son  died  in  infancy,  but  nine  daughters  were  bom  and 
grew  to  womanhood.  At  Standish  House,  near  Stroud, 
and  in  London,  where  their  hospitable  parents  often  took  a 
house  for  the  season,  the  girls  enjoyed  unusual  opportunities 
of  meeting  interesting  people.  Herbert  Spencer,  a  friend 
of  Richard  Potter  from  boyhood,  was  a  frequent  guest,  and 
men  were  glad  to  accept  invitations  to  the  lively  house- 
parties.  Thus  all  the  daughters  married,  and  several  of 
them  became  the  partners  of  men  who  achieved  distinction 
in  pubUc  life. 

In  the  autumn  of  1875  Kate,  the  second  daughter,  after 
the  unprofitable  excitements  of  a  series  of  London  seasons, 
resolved  to  help  Octavia  Hill  in  her  self-imposed  task  of 
reformatory  rent-collector  in  Whitechapel.  "  Miss  Potter 
has  been  staying  here,"  wrote  Miss  Hill  to  her  friend  Samuel 
Barnett,  vicar  of  St.  Jude's.  "  She  is  very  bright  and 
happy,  extremely  capable,  and  has  been  through  a  good 
deal  in  her  Ufe,  though  she  is  young.  She  seems  to  fit  in 
among  us  very  well."  ^  In  1878  the  vicar  reported  on  her 
work  :  "  The  common  lodgings  and  nightly  lodging-houses 
which  abound  in  this  parish  are  filled  with  people  of  the 
lowest  description,  who,  herded  together,  are  beyond  the 
reach  of  any  influence.     Fourteen  of  these  houses  have 

1  C.  E.  Maurice,  Life  of  Octavia  Hill,  p.  339. 

i8o  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

this  year  come  into  possession  of  a  friend  of  Miss  Octavia 
Hill.  It  was  delightful  to  enter  the  places  of  which  one 
had  such  sad  memories,  to  order  the  removal  of  dirt,  the 
renovation  of  the  broken  doors  and  plaster,  the  admission 
of  light  through  new  windows.  It  is  more  deUghtful  to 
know  that  in  these  houses  respectable  people  are  now 
living,  visited  weekly  by  a  lady  who  is  not  only  the  rent- 
collector  but  a  friend  to  help  by  wise  counsel  in  time  of  need, 
and  with  sympathy  for  them  as  creatures  capable  of  the 
fullest  life."  "  For  eight  years,"  adds  Mrs.  Bamett,  "  Miss 
Potter  worked  with  us,  bringing  in  her  wake  hosts  of  friends, 
as  well  as  two  sisters.  Miss  Potter's  friends  were  not  of 
the  '  goody  '  sort,  but  were  people  holding  the  world's 
plums,  of  wealth,  high  social  position,  and  posts  of  national 
responsibility ;  yet  she  brought  them  all  to  tender  their 
meed  of  service  to  the  poor,  and  compelled  them  to  face 
conditions  usually  hidden  from  the  comfortable."  ^ 

After  pitching  her  tent  in  Great  College  Street,  West- 
minster, in  1877,  Miss  Potter  was  at  home  to  her  friends  on 
Tuesdays  ;  and  as  her  rooms  were  within  a  stone's  throw  of 
the  Houses  of  Parliament  Members  often  dropped  in  during 
the  session.  As  a  girl  she  had  naturally  imbibed  the 
conservatism  of  her  parents ;  but  Whitechapel  had  con- 
vinced her  that  the  iUs  of  the  body  politic  required  a  more 
drastic  surgery,  and  her  political  friends  were  mainly  chosen 
from  the  Liberal  camp.  Among  them  was  Joseph  Chamber- 
lain, who  could  always  find  time  to  write  chatty  letter?. 
Her  Journal  in  1879  records  :  "  Mr.  Leonard  Courtney  also 
one  of  my  visitors  in  Great  College  Street."  A  note  added 
in  1910  comments  on  the  beginning  of  their  friendship : 
"  We  met  first  some  year  or  so  before  at  dinner  at  the 
Crackanthorpes',  and  I  was  told  he  was  an  important  man  on 
the  Times  ;  but  I  don't  remember  much  about  that  meeting. 
Then  about  1878  came  one  of  those  interesting  evening 
parties  at  the  Tennants'  in  Richmond  Terrace,  famous  for 
the  two  beautiful  daughters,  Dolly  and  Eveljn — subjects 
of  MiUais's  famous  pictures  '  Yes  or  No  '  and  '  Blue  Beads/ 
and  famous  for  a  collection  of  great  or  at  any  rate  known 

^  Life  of  Canon  Barneit,  i.  106. 


men  and  women.  Huxley  was  talking  to  me  and  denoun- 
cing a  manifesto  in  the  Times  of  that  morning  or±  Beacons- 
j&eld's  Afghan  policy  or  some  such  question — denouncing  it 
with  great  vigour  of  language.  When  he  had  expended 
his  eloquence,  a  voice  at  my  elbow  remarked  quietly,  '  That's 
a  pity,  for  I  wrote  it,'  and  there  was  Leonard  Courtney. 
I  burst  into  irresistible  and  I  fear  rather  noisy  laughter, 
and  Huxley  said,  '  A  weak  man  would  retreat,  but  I  won't,' 
and  the  incident  ended  in  good  temper.  But  Leonard  got 
introduced  to  me  that  evening.  He  said  afterwards  the 
honest  laugh  struck  him,  and  soon  after  he  called." 

The  stages  of  the  friendship  are  marked  by  the  entries 
which  recur  with  growing  frequency  in  the  Journal. 

Easter,  1880. — Return  to  London  (from  a  winter  in  Egypt 
with  the  Barnetts  and  Herbert  Spencer)  to  work  and  am  pressed 
into  taking  a  sort  of  superintendence  of  all  the  Whitechapel 
Houses.  The  Barnetts  came  back  warmer  friends  than  ever. 
Meet  Leonard  Courtney  in  Queen's  Gate  looking  radiant  after 
his  election  and  the  great  Liberal  victory.  He  dines  with  us 
and  I  like  him  better  than  ever. 

Dance  at  Prince's  Gardens.  Henry  Hobhouse  comes  at  my 
invitation  and  is  introduced  to  Maggie.  Sudden  fancy,  and 
after  a  week  or  two  they  are  engaged.  We  all  like  him.  Picnic 
on  the  river,  H.  Hobhouse,  Daveys  and  L.  Courtney  (a  long 
happy  day  with  him). 

October. — I  return  to  Great  College  Street  and  find  to  my 
dismay  that  the  drains  are  suspected.  A  good-bye  visit  from 
L.  Courtney. 

Miss  Potter  moved  to  a  larger  house  close  by  at  26 
Grosvenor  Road,  which  her  father  took  for  her,  and  con- 
tinued her  Tuesday  gatherings. 

January  188 1. — Mr.  Rathbone  and  L.  C.  came  to  tea,  and  I 
meet  the  latter  soon  after  at  dinner  at  the  Tennants', 

An  invitation  to  the  new  Minister  to  spend  the  short 
Easter  recess  at  Standish  marked  a  new  milestone  on  the 
road  to  intimacy,  and  was  accepted  with  pleasure. 

i82  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

To  Miss  Potter 

15  Queen  Anne's  Gate, 
April  4,   1 88 1. 

My  dear  Miss  Potter — Your  invitation  is  very  enticing, 
so  that  I  cannot  say  no  to  it  all  at  once.  Indeed  if  I  can  I  wiU 
act  yes.  Will  you  tell  me  within  what  days  you  propose  to  be 
at  Standish,  so  that  I  may  arrange  to  join  your  party  if  it  prove 
possible  ? — Yours  very  faithfully,  Leonard  Courtney. 

The  visit  was  a  great  success  and  brought  the  friends 
nearer  together. 


Easter,  1881. — My  party  at  Standish.  Mr.  Spencer,  L.  C.  and 
others.  What  a  happy  week  it  was  !  One  of  the  pleasantest  bits 
of  social  enjoyment  I  have  ever  had  and  just  tinged  towards  the 
end  with  something  a  Httle  stronger  than  social  feeUng.  I  was 
a  bit  anxious  as  to  how  my  friends  would  get  on  together,  and 
whether  one  of  them  would  not  be  bored  by  a  whole  week  in 
the  country.  But  all  went  charmingly.  L.  C.  evidently  enjoyed 
his  visit  to  my  great  deHght.  What  walks  we  had  altogether 
through  the  woods  ;  and  one  last  one  I  had  alone  with  L.  C. 

The  visit  gave  no  less  pleasure  to  the  guest. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

Standish  House,  Stonehouse,  April  20,  188 1. — Herbert 
Spencer  came  by  the  same  train.  There  is  plenty  of  room. 
The  country  is  very  beautiful.  We  are  on  the  slope  of  a  hiU 
overlooking  the  valley  of  the  Severn,  the  river  itself  looking  hke 
a  bright  cloud  on  the  horizon.  A  great  plain  Ues  between  us 
and  the  river,  full  of  meadows  and  orchards.  There  are  hills 
all  about,  which,  however,  are  for  the  most  part  the  edges  of 
the  higher  table-land  below  which  he  the  Severn  valley  and 
its  tributary  valleys.  Villages  are  numerous  ;  the  houses  mostly 
stone  built  (Bath  stone)  and  with  many  good  architectural 
traditions,  so  that  they  are  at  once  substantial  and  pleasant  to 
look  upon.  We  are  enjoying  ourselves  very  much.  After  break- 
fast I  am  allowed  to  retreat  to  the  study  to  write,  read  news- 
papers or  work,  for  I  have  a  few  papers  with  me.  In  the  after- 
noon walks  or  drives.  In  the  evening  much  talk.  A  httle 
music  now  and  then.  Herbert  Spencer  is,  as  you  know,  one  of 
the  most  opinionative  and  argumentative  of  men,  but  we  have 
not  had,  and  are  not  likely  to  have,  any  coUisions. 

jx  MARRIAGE  183 

A  month  later  Miss  Potter  enjoyed  a  visit  to  the  Private 
View  of  the  Academy  with  Herbert  Spencer  and  Leonard 


The  Grosvener  Gallery  next  day  with  L.  C.  and  tea  at  the 
Albemarle  afterwards.  A  very  happy  summer  follows.  Many 
meetings  at  little  parties  and  picnics  with  L.  C,  and  I  get  to 
count  more  and  more  on  my  friend,  though  without  looking  for 
any  very  definite  result  from  my  friendship.  I  am  deUghted  to  get 
an  invitation  to  dine  with  him  and  his  sisters  at  the  Albemarle. 
I  sit  between  him  and  Mr.  John  Morley,  with  whom  I  am  much 
taken.  Mr.  Spencer's  picnic  at  St.  George's  HiU, — the  Huxleys, 
Hookers  and  others,  and  my  friend  in  a  white  suit !  The  day 
before  I  leave  London  L.  C.  makes  me  very  happy  by  coming 
to  tell  me  of  his  approaching  appointment  to  the  Colonial  Office. 
I  cannot  find  many  words  to  congratulate  him,  but  there  is  some 
silent  feehng  as  we  part. 

A  visit  to  the  Ladies'  Gallery  proved  less  delectable 
than  had  been  expected,  for  the  principal  attraction  was 

To  Miss  Potter 

July  27,  1881. 

My  dear  Miss  Potter — You  need  not  have  been  disappointed 
on  Monday.  The  debate  was  very  good  and  there  was  no 
necessity  for  my  speaking.  I  was  disappointed  last  night.  I 
dined  at  the  Rathbones'  and  you  were  not  there,  which  was  very 
vexatious,  especially  as  there  was  an  empty  chair  on  my  left. 
I  beUeve  you  dined  there  last  Friday,  when  also  I  was  invited 
but  could  not  go.  What  cross  purposes  ! — I  am  reluctant  to 
say  good-bye,  Leonard  Courtney. 

That  such  a  friendship  must  either  terminate  or  march 
forward  to  its  appointed  goal  was  now  becoming  obvious 
to  both  parties,  and  Courtney  began  to  draw  back. 


November  and  December. — Rather  sad  and  dreary  time  in 
London.  My  friend  comes  not  to  see  me  and  even  appears  to 
avoid  natural  opportunities  of  doing  so.  I  get  more  and  more 
perplexed  and  troubled.    At  last  I  come  to  the  conclusion  that 

i84  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

something  has  interfered  with  his  friendship  for  me,  and  I  must 
give  up  thinking  of  it  if  my  health  and  work  are  not  to  suffer. 
I  go  down  to  Standish  resolved  to  get  over  it. 

Christinas,  Standish. — ^A  very  pleasant  family  party.  How 
we  teased  Mr.  Spencer  into  kissing  Beatrice  under  a  bit  of  mistle- 
toe and  put  a  fool's  cap  out  of  a  cracker  on  his  philosophical 
head  !  I  forgot  my  own  troubles  for  the  time,  and  came  back 
to  London  ready  to  face  the  world  and  work  again.  But  this 
mood  did  not  last  long. 

January  1882. — ^A  talk  with  Mrs.  Bamett  about  L.  C.  She 
asks  me  to  meet  him  at  dinner  on  January  30.  I  cannot  resist. 
We  talk  together  a  Uttle  looking  at  a  sketch  of  Israels',  when  we 
arrange  to  see  his  pictures  together  the  next  day.  How  I  enjoy 
that  morning  with  my  friend  over  those  pathetic  pictures,  and 
then  we  walk  home  together  as  far  as  Downing  Street.  I  feel 
that  he  Ukes  me,  but  feel  also  that  there  are  difficulties  in  his 
own  mind,  and  I  recognise  that  my  own  feeHngs  are  so  much 
engaged  that  the  only  thing  to  do  is  to  wait  patiently  for  the 
solution  which  time  may  bring,  and  meanwhile  to  enjoy  his 

So  things  went  on  till  the  opening  of  the  Whitechapel  Exhibi- 
tion on  April  4  (my  birthday),  where  I  heard  him  speak  for  the 
first  time.  It  was  a  solemn  speech  for  the  opening  of  an  art 
exhibition,  and  it  impressed  me  much,  with  its  earnest  questions 
as  to  the  aims  and  objects  and  future  of  man's  hfe. 

A  few  days  later  Miss  Potter's  mother  died,  and  in  the 
following  month  she  asked  her  friend  to  visit  her. 

From  Miss  Potter 

May  16,  1882. — If  you  could  spare  half  an  hour  between  this 
and  next  Saturday,  when  I  go  down  to  Standish  for  ten  days, 
I  should  so  Uke  to  see  you.  When  one  has  gone  through  some 
great  event  which  creates  in  one  a  whole  world  of  new  thoughts 
and  feeHngs  one  seems  to  want  one's  friends  more  than  ever  to 
help  one  to  solve  the  problems  and  put  things  in  their  right 
places  and  proportions.  From  those  few  words  you  said  at 
the  Whitechapel  Exhibition  you  must  have  thought  much  about 
that  great  mystery  of  death  which  has  now  come  so  near  to  us. 
I  wonder  whether  people  ever  do  reaUse  death  in  the  least  till 
it  comes  to  them  personally,  and  then  leaves  them  gazing  blankly 
into  a  great  cloud  of  darkness ;  and  then  how  astonishingly  quickly 
life  reasserts  itself  and  one  throws  oneself  into  its  interests.     I 


am  thinking  of  other  things  already,  and  among  them  your 
recent  change  of  position  ^  has  interested  me  much.  I  suppose 
I  ought  to  congratulate  you,  but  I  am  not  sure  !  You  will  not 
now  feel  as  if  you  were  ruhng  the  Empire  ;  but  perhaps  that 
had  gone  on  long  enough  and  you  were  getting  too  "  Imperial  " 
in  tendency. 

To  Miss  Potter 

May  17. 

My  dear  Miss  Potter — If  you  will  be  at  home  to-morrow 
evening  at  six  I  will  come  and  see  you.  I  was  much  distressed 
at  the  end  of  Easter  week  to  read  of  the  great  blow  that  had 
fallen  upon  you.  I  could  not  help  thinking  of  the  same  time 
last  year  when  we  had  spent  such  happy  days  at  Standish.  We 
may  and  must  forget  the  distress  of  separation,  but  we  need  not 
forget  those  that  have  left  us.  I  hope  that  you  are  returning 
to  your  work  again.  When  I  heard  of  your  loss  my  first,  or 
nearly  my  first  thought  was  a  hope  that  you  would  not  have  to 
give  up  the  work  to  which  you  have  set  yourself. — I  remain,  my 
dear  Miss  Potter,  always  yours  faithfully, 

Leonard  Courtney. 

When  the  friends  met  on  May  18  the  reserve  that  for 
many  a  dreary  month  had  set  a  seal  on  their  lips  melted 
away.  The  discovery  was  a  joyful  surprise  to  both,  for 
neither  had  sounded  the  depth  of  the  affection  which  filled 
the  other's  heart.  "  I  learned  long  since  that  life  is  subject 
to  severe  conditions."  wrote  Leonard  Courtney  the  same 
evening,  "  and  I  discovered  that  for  me  I  must  live  and  die 
alone.  Friendship  I  could  enjoy,  and  some  dear  friends 
I  have  had ;  but  beyond  this  I  could  not  hope."  The 
new  relationship  had  come  so  suddenly  and  indeed  so 
unexpectedly  that  they  resolved  to  keep  it  secret  except 
from  some  of  the  sisters  till  they  had  time  to  reflect  how 
soon  they  could  afford  to  marry.  A  few  days  later  Miss 
Potter  left  for  Standish,  and  the  Minister  set  off  on  his  usual 
Whitsun  jaunt  to  Paris. 

1  His  appointment  as  Financial  Secretary  to  the  Treasury. 

186  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

To  Miss  Potter 

Paris,  May  30. 
My  dear  Kate — My  visit  here  will  be  shorter  than  usual, 
and  it  has  had  a  vein  of  thought  running  through  it  of  a  novel 
character.  We  crossed  in  lovely  weather.  Mr.  Lionel  Robinson, 
who  knows  nearly  everybody,  has  taken  me  this  evening  to 
dine  with  M.  Lockroy  and  M.  Naquet,  two  of  the  advanced 
Radicals  in  the  Chamber.  These  deputies  talked  more  reason- 
ably than  I  had  expected,  but  I  doubt  whether  France  will 
soon  be  fairly  settled.  This  wretched  Egyptian  business  dis- 
turbs them,  and  in  the  worst  form,  for  it  excites  their  worst 
vices  of  covetousness  and  vanity.  But  you  must  not  think  I 
have  been  occupied  with  poUtics.  I  have  not  seen  an  EngHsh 
paper  since  Saturday,  and  my  principal  occupation  has  been 
seeing  pictures.  Now  I  must  say  good-bye,  but  not  for  long. 
I  hope  I  shall  find  my  friend  very  happy. 

From  Miss  Potter 

June  7. 

Dearest  Friend — Sunday  is  such  a  long  way  off  that  I 
must  write  you  a  httle  Une  between  ;  only  you  must  not. answer 
it  if  you  are  busy.  I  suppose  being  Wednesday  you  will  be 
dining  out  and  seeing  lots  of  people.  For  one  reason  and  only 
one  I  am  sorry  not  to  have  been  going  out  this  summer,  and 
that  is  that  I  should  Hke  to  see  whether  you  look  the  same  to 
me  as  you  used  to  do  in  society.  I  should  not  mind  your  talking 
to  any  one  else  as  much  as  you  liked,  because  I  should  know 
that  sometimes  I  had  nicer  talks  than  they  ever  had. 

An  idea  has  been  running  through  my  head, — a  very  low 
idea,  for  it  is  connected  with  public-houses  and  beer.  I  believe 
that  the  blood-poisoning  stuff  that  is  put  into  it  is  responsible 
for  the  worst  part  of  the  drunkenness  and  violence  in  London. 
Why  should  not  an  act  be  passed  against  adulteration  ?  And  I 
wonder  whether  it  would  be  possible  to  take  a  public-house  in 
some  low  street  and  sell  good  beer  and  manage  it  efficiently. 
Some  of  these  days  I  think  I  shall  go  to  one  of  the  great  brewers 
who  are  so  fond  of  subscribing  to  charities  and  ask  them  to  put 
me  into  one  of  their  pubhc-houses  and  see  if  I  can't  make  it  pay. 
The  teetotallers  are  too  narrow  to  take  the  whole  world  in.  I 
am  not  sure  that  better  pubhc-houses  would  not  do  something 
to  aUay  the  drink  fiend.  Would  you  mind  seeing  my  name  up 
over  a  beer  shop  in  Whitechapel  ? — Your  affectionate  friend, 

Kate  Potter 
(Licensed  to  sell  beer  and  spirits). 

a  MARRIAGE  187 

To  Miss  Potter 

June  9. 

Dearest  Kate — Your  imagination  amuses  me,  pursuing  me 
to  evening  parties  ;  but  I  was  not  at  a  party  on  Wednesday. 
I  had  an  invitation  to  Mrs.  Jacob  Bright 's  ;  but  I  took  my 
sisters  to  hear  Tannhduser  at  the  German  Opera,  I  am  much 
in  favour  of  the  Gothenburg  system  of  public-house  licensing 
which  would  secure  most,  if  not  all,  you  aim  at.  When  I  was 
at  Gothenburg  three  years  ago  I  made  many  inquiries  and  thought 
it  had  done  good  and  could  here.  Chamberlain,  as  you  know, 
took  up  the  plan  before  he  came  into  the  House  and  proposed 
it  in  his  first  session,  but  has  dropped  it — more's  the  pity.  We 
shall  hear  of  it  again. 

At  the  end  of  the  session  the  engagement  was  made 
public,  and  Miss  Potter's  choice  was  ratified  by  her  father 
and  sisters. 

Front  Mrs.  Meinertzhagen 

August  29. — I  believe  Kate  has  every  prospect  of  happi- 
ness before  her,  and  I  need  not  say  that  we  all  think  she 
deserves  it.  I  cannot  think  how  she  has  escaped  matrimony 
so  long.  I  hope  very  much  that  you  will  Hke  your  new 
relations  as  well  as  they  are  prepared  to  Uke  you.  You  will 
find  some  crotchety  old  Tories  amongst  them  whom  you  may 
influence  a  little  towards  the  right  way  of  thinking.  You  must 
be  quite  prepared  to  be  taken  possession  of  by  our  large  family. 
Any  new  member  is  drawn  into  it  with  wonderful  rapidity, 
and  in  your  case  we  shall  not  be  a  little  proud  of  our  new 

The  tidings  were  welcomed  with  equal  pleasure  by  such 
members  of  the  Courtney  family  as  had  not  already  heard 
of  it  and  by  the  friends  of  both  parties. 

From  Herbert  Spencer 

December  3,  1882. — The  contents  of  your  note  gave  me  much 
satisfaction.  I  should  think  it  but  rarely  happens  that  in  such 
relations  there  is  found  greater  community  of  thought  and 
feeling   and   general  aims   than   exists   between  you  and   Mr. 

i88  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Courtney.  I  augur  well,  too,  from  the  long-continued  intimacy 
which  has  given  each  so  good  an  opportunity  of  knowing  the 
other.  I  wish  you  all  the  happiness  you  so  well  deserve,  and 
see  no  reason  to  doubt  that  you  will  have  it. 

From  John  Morley 

October  23. — I  always  think  it  half  impertinent  to  offer 
happy  people  congratulations.  But  you  know  with  what  real 
pleasure  and  confident  good  wishes  I  heard  of  this  great  venture 
of  a  friend  whom  I  have  long  held  in  such  affectionate  regard. 
It  is  the  great  venture  after  all,  but  you  have  both  left  Httle 
to  chance,  if  the  union  of  good  and  proved  characters  means 
certainty  of  happiness.  This  is  rather  solemn  phrasing,  but 
marriage  is  not  altogether  without  solemnity  after  all.  Anyhow 
I  wish  you  aU  good  things — both  of  you — and  hope  that  you 
will  admit  his  friends  to  a  share  of  cordial  friendship  with  his 
new  companion. 

From  Joseph  Chamberlain  [to  L.  H.  Courtney) 

October  18. — Morley  has  just  been  here  who  told  me  of  your 
engagement.  Will  you  allow  me  most  heartily  and  sincerely 
to  congratulate  you — first  on  the  event  and  above  all  on  your 
choice  ?  My  acquaintance  with  Miss  Potter  has  only  been  a 
short  one,  but  I  like  her  so  much  that  I  hope  I  may  know  and 
like  her  more  as  your  wife.     When  does  the  marriage  come  off  ? 

A  few  days  after  the  announcement  of  the  engagement 
the  Minister  sailed  from  Hull  to  St.  Petersburg,  in  pursuit 
of  a  long-cherished  desire  to  see  something  of  Russia. 

To  Miss  Potter 

St.  Petersburg,  September  3. — I  arrived  here  yesterday 
and  went  to  the  Embassy  for  letters.  I  found  one  from  the 
Prime  Minister.  It  was  very  characteristic.  It  was  meant 
to  suggest  (perhaps  a  reproof)  that  I  had  gone  rather  far  away 
and  should  at  least  keep  myself  within  range  of  post  and  tele- 
graph. He  adds  in  a  postscript,  "  I  do  not  write  with  the  desire 
of  moving  anything  from  my  shoulders  to  yours,  but  from  a 
sense  of  the  great  value  of  your  judgment  and  co-operation  in 
affairs."     I  am  going  to  write  him  to  say  that  I  always  intended 


to  be  back  in  England  by  the  end  of  September  and  could  return 
at  any  time  in  four  days.  The  absurdity  of  the  letter  is  that 
my  judgment,  however  valuable,  is  never  called  into  account 
in  anything  of  pressing  importance. 

The  great  attraction  of  the  capital  was  the  Hermitage, 
where  the  traveller  rejoiced  in  the  Rembrandts  and  Van- 
dykes ;  and  he  was  interested  to  see  the  Tsar  and  Tsarina 
returning  from  the  festival  of  St.  Alexander  Nevski,  and  to 
hear  them  loudly  cheered  in  the  streets. 

To  Miss  Potter 

Berlin,  September  19. — I  was  extremely  interested  in 
Moscow.  The  situation  of  the  Kremlin  is  very  fine  and  the 
buildings  in  it  make  a  striking  ensemble,  yet  they  have  in- 
dividually no  beauty.  The  most  bizarre  of  all  the  churches 
was  called  by  Napoleon  a  mosque.  I  was  reminded  in  parts 
of  the  town  of  Lucknow,  where  the  architecture  which  Akbar 
and  the  Persians  brought  to  Delhi  and  Agra  came  into  contact 
with  the  native  architecture  of  India  and  produced  a  mongrel 
style  without  the  merits  of  either.  I  went  twice  to  the  Exhibi- 
tion, where  several  rooms  were  full  of  pictures  by  Russian  artists 
of  to-day.  Verestchagin  was  not  represented  by  any  of  his 
great  pictures,  and  I  understood  he  is  out  of  favour  because 
he  shows  the  ugly  side  of  war. 

As  the  marriage  was  fixed  for  the  following  Easter,  it 
was  necessary  to  find  a  home.  House-hunting  proved  less 
of  a  torment  than  usual,  and  a  pretty,  old  red-brick  mansion 
in  Che)me  Walk,  with  a  view  across  the  river  and  a  pleasant 
garden  behind,  exactly  met  their  wishes  in  respect  of  size, 
rent  and  situation.  "  I  think  it  was  a  November  afternoon 
when  we  happened  on  it,"  wrote  Lady  Courtney  thirty-six 
years  later,  "  in  one  of  our  Saturday  walks  during  our 
engagement — exploring  walks,  to  see  where  we  should  live. 
I  had  thought  we  might  have  started  in  the  bright  little 
modem  house  in  Grosvenor  Road,  with  a  river  view  of  its 
own  too — a  house  I  had  taken  on  a  twenty-one  year  lease, 
thinking  I  should  never  marry.  Two  friends  shared  it  with 
me  as  my  tenants.  But  no  !  '  Very  nice,  but  it  was  not 
for  him.'    His  lodgings  had  always  been  in  some  old  house. 

190  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

So  we  turned  to  Chelsea  and  Cheyne  Walk.  We  had 
indeed  been  over  No.  26,  with  a  very  large  garden,  but  we 
doubted  about  it.  Then  we  saw  the  board  up  at  No.  15, 
and  the  fine  iron  gate  at  once  attracted  him.  When  the 
door  opened  the  good  spacious  staircase  settled  the  question. 
'  This  is  our  house/  he  said.  I  suggested  that  rooms  were 
important  and  must  be  carefully  considered,  as  we  could 
not  live  on  the  staircase.  But  he  was  sure  that  staircase 
implied  the  main  quahties  we  wanted ;  and  on  the  whole 
it  did.  To  be  sure  the  present  pantry  was  a  coal  hole ; 
the  panelled  rooms  were  all  covered  with  canvas  and  paper 
and  the  floors  sloped  about  unevenly.  But  there  was  an 
air  about  it,  an  air  of  dignity,  of  repose,  of  welcome. 
Leonard  felt  a  house,  was  very  sensitive  to  its  atmosphere, 
and  he  loved  this  one.  We  took  it  and  set  about  alterations, 
stripping  the  drawing-room  of  its  canvas  and  paper  and 
restoring  the  old  panelling  and  putting  up  a  beautiful 
overmantel.  And  then  the  furnishing  began  and  all  the 
planning  where  his  beloved  pictures,  prints  and  blue  china 
should  go.  How  we  enjoyed  it !  It  was  practically  aU 
his.  My  share  was  the  useful  commonplace  things.  Some 
years  after  we  built  out  the  dining-room  and  merged  part 
of  the  old  room  into  the  smaU  hbrary,  thus  getting  two 
large  and  beautiful  rooms  on  the  ground  floor.  Later  still 
my  husband  planned  and  carried  out  one  or  two  ideas  he 
had  for  the  front  of  the  house  which  gave  him  great  pleasure. 
First  came  a  fountain  in  the  httle  front  garden  which  was 
and  is  a  great  joy  to  our  small  neighbours,  rich  and  poor. 
We  began  with  gold  fish,  but  that  was  too  great  a  tempta- 
tion and  we  had  to  give  them  up.  Then  came  the  sundial 
— an  old  one  fixed  on  the  front  of  the  house.  The  motto 
on  it  was  his  choice — '  Lead,  kindly  light.'  But  his  biggest 
venture  was  the  two  pairs  of  sculptured  heads — Sir  Thomas 
More  and  Erasmus  on  one  panel,  Carlyle  and  Mazzini  on 
the  other." 

Most  of  the  Ministers  gave  presents  to  their  colleague, 
and  112  Members  of  the  House  of  Commons,  subscribing  a 
guinea  each,  presented  a  grand  piano,  a  pair  of  lamps  and 
a  tea-urn.     Among  the  presents  to  the  bride  was  an  offering 


from  her  East-end  tenants.  The  marriage  took  place  at 
St.  Jude's,  Whitechapel,  and  William  Courtney  supported 
his  brother  as  best  man.  The  address  was  delivered  by 
Samuel  Bamett. 


March  15,  1883. — Our  marriage.  The  church  crowded  with 
poor  people,  to  most  of  whom  I  was  known  and  many  of  whom 
I  knew.  Breakfast  in  St.  Jude's  Schools  with  a  hundred  of  my 
poor  people  and  about  forty  others — all  my  sisters  and  their 
husbands,  Margaret,  Louise  and  William  Courtney,  Mr.  Spencer, 
the  John  Morleys,  Mr.  Roby,  and  of  course  the  dear  Barnetts. 

"  March  15,"  wrote  the  Vicar  after  the  ceremony,  "  will 
be  long  remembered  by  the  many  who  on  that  day  followed 
their  friend  with  kindly  thoughts  into  her  new  life,  and 
shared  the  first  meal  which  she  took  with  her  husband. 
We  shall  not  forget  her,  and  she,  I  know,  will  not  forget 
us."  "  No,  indeed,"  adds  Mrs.  Bamett,  "  that  wedding  is 
not  forgotten — the  dignified  happiness  of  the  bridegroom, 
the  beauty  of  the  bride's  gown,  the  palms  and  the  flowers 
in  the  church,  the  Vicar's  address,  the  height  of  the  Bus- 
zard's  cake,  how  Mr.  Herbert  Spencer  behaved  during  the 
service,  why  Mr.  John  Morley  looked  so  grave,  the  ladies' 
dresses,  the  number  of  carriages,  the  dainty  breakfast 
served  in  the  big  schoolroom,  all  so  carefully  arranged  that 
without  fuss  or  patronage  the  coster  sat  side  by  side  with 
the  Member  of  Parliament,  and  the  overworked  mother 
enjoyed  the  food  she  had  not  cooked,  while  she  talked  and 
listened  to  the  '  quality '  who  had  handed  her  to  her  seat. 
Was  it  bizarre,  forced  and  fanciful  ?  No  !  for  all  the  guests, 
however  far  apart  in  mental  and  social  degree,  were  united 
by  their  love  and  respect  for  the  bride."  ^ 

The  honeymoon,  severely  limited  by  the  Easter  recess, 
was  spent  at  Longfords,  the  Gloucestershire  home  of  a 
sister  of  the  bride,  and  in  Devon,  and  on  their  return  the 
couple  settled  at  15  Cheyne  Walk,  where  they  were  destined 
to  spend  thirty-five  years  together.  Whitsuntide  was  spent 
in  Paris,  and  in  June  Courtney  took  his  wife  to  Cambridge 

^  Life  of  Canon  Bamett,  i.  107. 

192  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap.ix 

and  showed  her  his  old  haunts  in  St.  John's,  including 
the  Fellows'  Garden,  of  which  he  always  kept  the  key.     It 
was  a  busy  season  for  the  bride.     "  Everybody  asks  us  to 
dinner,"  she  records  in  her  Journal,  "  and  I  go  to  many 
large  receptions  and  am  introduced  to  more  people  than  I 
can  remember."     After  the  rising  of  ParUament  in  August 
they  had  a  quiet  fortnight  to  themselves  in  London,  where 
the  Minister  finished  up  his  Treasury  work,  followed  by 
visits  to  Standish,  "  bright,  sunny  and  cheerful,  Mr.  Spencer 
and  bowls,"  and  Hadspen  (the  home  of  Henry  Hobhouse) 
"  where  L.  sees  churches  to  his  heart's  content,  including 
Wells  and  Glastonbury,"     Entering  Cornwall  from  Bideford 
they  journeyed  south  through  Bude,  Boscastle  and  Tintagel 
to  Penzance  and  Liskeard.     In  the  course  of  the  autumn 
they  paid  short  visits  to  George  Trevelyan  at  the  Chief 
Secretary's  Lodge  in  Phoenix  Park,  and  to  Joseph  Chamber- 
lain at  Highbury.     Each  of  the  partners  was  rich  in  friends, 
and  their  combined  forces  made  a  formidable  host.     Chelsea 
was  within  a  walk  of  Westminster,  and  among  the  Members 
who  most  frequently  came  from  the  House  to  dinner  was 
Henry  Fawcett.     "  I  get  to  know  and  Uke  him,"  wrote  the 
bride  in  her  Journal.     "  His  personality  is  soon  impressed 
on  one — strong  clear  views,  thorough  enjo5mient  of  social 
life,  very  genial  to  all,  and  with  loud,  cheery  voice."     But 
from  March   15,   1883,   the  story  of  Leonard   Courtney's 
life  is  a  record  of  common  triumphs  and  common  trials, 
sweetened  by  loving  comradeship  and  fortified  by  perfect 



The  principal  measure  of  the  session  of  1884 — and  indeed 
of  the  Parliament  of  1880 — was  the  Franchise  Bill.  Its 
chief  feature,  the  concession  of  the  vote  to  the  agricultural 
labourer,  formed  part  of  the  Liberal  programme  at  the 
General  Election  ;  but  Courtney  was  more  interested  in 
the  enfranchisement  of  women  and  the  representation  of 
minorities.  On  both  issues  he  came  into  collision  with  the 
Cabinet,  and  on  one  of  them  the  difference  proved  too 
profound  for  compromise. 

The  discussion  which  was  to  continue  without  interrup- 
tion for  over  a  year  opened  in  the  autumn  of  1883.  "  Many 
meetings  and  speeches,"  wrote  Mrs.  Courtney  in  her  Journal 
in  describing  her  first  visit  to  Liskeard.  "  L.  devotes  much 
of  his  time  to  Proportional  Representation."  In  answer  to 
Bright,  who  had  spoken  disdainfully  of  "  fads,"  the  Minister 
appealed  to  the  authority  of  Mill  and  Cairnes,  Dilke  and 
Fawcett,  and  argued  that  his  scheme  alone  secured  the 
principle  of  "One  vote,  one  value,"  which  Liberals  demanded. 
With  equal  warmth  he  pleaded  that  the  opportunity  should 
be  seized  of  enfranchising  women,  thus  obtaining  a  reflection 
of  the  mind  of  every  section  of  the  community.  He  added 
that  as  the  Franchise  Bill  would  be  the  crowning  achieve- 
ment of  the  Parliament  and  should  be  quickly  followed  by 
a  General  Election,  it  might  well  wait  for  another  year. 
His  speeches  aroused  a  good  deal  of  interest  in  the  political 
world.  The  Pall  Mall  Gazette,  which  had  recently  passed 
from  the  hands  of  Mr.  Morley  into  those  of  W.  T.  Stead, 

193  o 

194  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

published  a  leader  entitled  "  Mr.  Courtney  contra  mundum." 
After  confessing  that  there  was  no  pubHc  man  of  equal 
standing  who  spoke  less  or  said  more  than  the  Secretary 
to  the  Treasury,  the  Pall  Mall  proceeded  to  denounce 
Proportional  Representation  and  to  warn  the  Liberal  party 
against  postponement  of  the  Bill.  A  frank  and  not  wholly 
unexpected  remonstrance  followed  from  Birmingham. 

From  Joseph  Chamberlain  [to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

October  31,  1883. — I  shall  be  in  London  on  the  8th  and  shall 
be  delighted  to  dine  with  you  that  evening.  I  am  sorry  your 
husband  was  so  outspoken  the  other  day.  Perhaps  he  is  right 
in  his  opinions — ^in  any  case  we  shall  not  quarrel  because  we 
differ ;  but  I  should  have  been  glad  if  he  had  reserved  himself 
and  not  committed  himself  so  far  ahead.  Public  opinion  (and 
I  think  also  the  decision  of  the  Government)  is  going  against 
him,  and  under  these  circumstances  it  would  be  good  policy  to 
keep  perfect  freedom  of  action,  which  is  more  or  less  hampered 
by  strong  expressions  of  personal  predilection.  Look  at  Goschen, 
for  instance.  His  speech  on  County  Franchise  was  really  an 
unnecessary  bravado  and  almost  an  affectation  of  courage.  It 
has  left  him  stranded  on  the  political  beach,  and  I  doubt  if, 
with  all  his  ability,  he  will  ever  come  to  the  front  again.  You 
know  I  do  not  err  myself  on  the  side  of  reticence,  and  I  should 
not  counsel  a  friend  to  hold  his  tongue  merely  to  save  his  skin  ; 
but  I  admire  so  heartily  your  husband's  powers  and  am  so 
desirous  of  working  loyally  with  him  that  I  am  anxious  that  he 
should  not  unnecessarily  emphasise  the  differences  which  separate 
us.  Here  is  what  a  mutual  friend  writes  me — you  will  guess 
his  name.  "  What  a  pity  that  Courtney  should  never  see  more 
of  the  great  tide  of  democracy  than  can  be  got  up  into  a  table- 
spoon at  Liskeard !  "  Pray  thank  him  for  his  kind  reference 
to  myself,  I  know  that  neither  you  nor  he  will  mind  my  frank 

The  protest  was  renewed  ten  days  later  by  word  of 


November  8. — Mr.  Chamberlain  and  Mr.  Morley  dine  with  us  and 
chaff  L.  about  his  criticism  of  the  Government.  Mr.  C.  evidently 
fears  it  will  come  to  a  split.     He  will  never  consent  to  P.  R. 


The  astute  Radical  commander,  who  envisaged  the 
forthcoming  Bill  as  a  pawn  on  the  pohtical  chess-board,  was 
already  laying  his  plans  for  the  General  Election,  and 
impatiently  brushed  aside  any  proposals  which  did  not  seem 
calculated  to  contribute  to  the  victory.  A  month  later 
Courtney  and  his  wife  spent  a  week-end  at  Highbury,  where 
the  host  "  shadowed  out  the  agitation  on  the  Franchise  as 
the  card  to  play  which  would  give  the  Liberals  a  majority 
at  the  next  election."  Chamberlain's  open  antagonism 
convinced  the  friends  of  Proportional  Representation  that 
they  must  organise  their  forces.  On  January  16,  1884,  the 
Proportional  Representation  Society  was  founded,  and  at 
the  first  General  Meeting  on  March  5  Sir  John  Lubbock 
was  elected  President.^  The  members  were  drawn  im- 
partially from  both  parties,  and  Mr.  Arthur  Balfour's 
adhesion  gave  special  satisfaction. 

The  Franchise  Bill  was  introduced  on  February  28,  and 
the  issue  of  woman  suffrage  was  raised  at  the  outset.  As  a 
declared  champion  of  the  principle  Courtney  refused  to  vote 
against  it  simply  because  he  was  a  Minister  and  because 
the  Chief  Whip  feared  a  close  division.  His  attitude,  how- 
ever, raised  a  wider  issue  than  the  casting  of  a  single  vote  ; 
and  Sir  Charles  Dilke  ^  wrote  to  the  Prime  Minister  from 
the  South  of  France  explaining  his  position. 

Sir  C.  Dilke  to  Mr.  Gladstone 

Easter  Eve,  1884. — I  should  feel  no  difficulty  in  voting 
against  the  amendment  on  the  ground  of  tactics  which  would 
be  stated,  provided  that  Fawcett  and  Courtney,  who  are  the 
only  thick-and-thin  supporters  of  woman's  suffrage  in  the 
Government,  voted  also  ;  but  I  cannot  vote  if  they  abstain. 

Gladstone  repUed  that  to  add  the  novel  and  controversial 
issue  of  woman's  suffrage  to  the  agreed  principles  of  an 
Agricultural  Labourers'  Franchise  Bill  was  unwise,  and 
would  give  the  House  of  Lords  an  admirable  pretext  for 
postponing  or  rejecting  the  measure.     Sir  Charles,  as  the 

^  Hutchinson,  Life  of  Sir  John  Lttbbock,  i.  201-10. 
*  Dilke' s  Life,  ii.  6-9. 

196  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

only  convinced  supporter  in  the  Cabinet,  was  in  a  position 
of  peculiar  difficulty,  but  he  determined  to  be  in  large 
measure  guided  by  the  decision  of  the  two  subordinate 
Ministers.  "  By  May  22  I  had  made  up  my  mind  that  I 
could  not  vote  against  the  woman  franchise  amendment  if 
Courtney  and  Fawcett  went  out  on  the  matter.  I  could 
not  speak  to  them  about  it  because  of  the  '  Cabinet  Secret ' 
doctrine.  Childers  had  been  directed  by  the  Cabinet  to 
sound  Courtney,  because  he  was  Courtney's  official  superior 
in  the  Treasury.  He  was  to  offer  him  that  if  he  would  vote 
against  the  amendment  he  should  be  allowed  to  speak  for 
woman  franchise  on  the  merits,  and  that  none  of  its 
opponents  in  the  Cabinet  (that  is,  all  except  myself)  should 
speak  against  it  on  the  merits.  I  was  unwiUing  to  go  out, 
but  thought  I  could  not  do  otherwise  than  make  common 
cause  with  Courtney." 

Courtney  and  Fawcett  stoutly  resisted  all  appeals  to 
vote  against  the  amendment,  and  when  it  was  reached  Dilke 
followed  their  example  by  walking  out.  Their  insubordina- 
tion caused  a  miniature  storm  in  the  Cabinet.  "  Hartington 
is  very  angry  with  me  for  not  voting,"  wrote  Sir  Charles  in 
his  Diary  on  June  12,  "  and  wants  me  turned  out  for  it. 
He  has  to  vote  every  day  for  things  which  he  strongly  dis- 
approves. He  says  that  my  position  was  wholly  different 
from  that  of  Fawcett  and  Courtney,  because  I  was  a  party 
to  the  decision  of  the  Cabinet,  and  that  custom  binds  the 
minority  in  the  collective  decision.  This  is  undoubtedly 
the  accepted  theory."  The  matter  came  up  for  discussion 
at  a  Cabinet  on  June  14,  which  decided  that  the  three 
mutineers  should  retain  their  posts. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

June  16,  1884. — ^The  request  which  I  have  to  make  to  you, 
in  connection  with  the  recent  and  important  division,  will 
perhaps  be  best  introduced  and  explained  by  my  sending  you 
in  confidence  a  copy  of  the  enclosed  Memorandum  which  has 
now  received  the  authority  of  the  Cabinet. 

"  It  has  probably  come  to  the  notice  of  my  colleagues  that, 
in  a  division  early  this  morning,  which  was  known  to  be  vital  to 


the  Franchise  Bill  and  to  the  Government,  three  of  its  Members 
abstained  from  voting.  Preliminary  intimations  had  been  given 
to  this  effect,  and  some  effort  had  been  made  to  bring  about  a 
different  intention.  This  change  of  mind  was  hoped  for,  but  no 
question  of  surprise  can  be  raised.  It  is,  however,  an  elementary 
rule,  necessary  for  the  cohesion  and  character  of  Administrations, 
that  on  certain  questions,  and  notably  on  questions  vital  to 
their  existence,  their  Members  should  vote  together.  In  the 
event  of  their  not  doing  so,  their  intention  to  quit  the  Govern- 
ment is  presumed,  and  in  all  ordinary  circumstances  ought  to 
take  effect.  At  the  present  moment,  however,  besides  the 
charge  of  a  great  legislative  measure  and  an  ever-increasing 
mass  of  other  business,  the  Ministry  is  rapidly  approaching  a 
crisis  on  a  question  of  Foreign  affairs  which  involves  principles 
of  the  deepest  importance  not  only  to  the  welfare  of  Egypt  but 
to  the  character  and  honour  of  the  country,  and  to  the  law,  the 
concord,  and  possibly  even  the  peace  of  Europe.  It  would  be 
most  unfortunate  were  the  minds  of  men  at  such  a  juncture  to 
be  disturbed  by  the  resignation  of  a  Cabinet  Minister,  and  of 
two  other  gentlemen  holding  offices  of  great  importance,  on  a 
question  which,  important  as  it  is,  relates  mainly  to  the  internal 
discipHne  and  management  of  the  official  corps.  I  therefore 
propose  to  my  colleagues  that  I  be  authorised  to  request  of  the 
President  of  the  Local  Government  Board,  the  Postmaster 
General,  and  the  Secretary  to  the  Treasury,  that  they  will  do 
us  the  favour  to  retain  their  respective  offices. 

W.  E.  Gladstone." 

The  Franchise  Bill  passed  through  the  Commons  with 
little  opposition,  and  the  Third  Reading  on  June  26  was 
unchallenged  ;  but  on  July  8  the  Lords  declined  to  proceed 
with  it  until  it  was  supplemented  by  a  scheme  for  Re- 
distribution. The  Prime  Minister  sharply  rejoined  that 
the  Bill  would  be  reintroduced  in  an  autumn  session,  and 
his  followers  burst  into  a  chorus  of  angry  protest,  Mr.  Morley 
proclaiming  that  the  House  of  Lords  should  be  either 
"  mended  or  ended."  The  indignation  was  a  little  too 
shrill  for  Courtney's  taste,  though  he  was  no  admirer  of  the 
Upper  House  as  actually  constituted. 

To  a  Constituent 

July  15,  1884. — ^The  position  of  the  House  of  Lords  in  refer- 
ence to  the  Franchise  BiU  is  deplorable ;    but  we  need   not 

198  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

contemplate  its  abolition.  My  experience  of  the  present  and 
the  last  House  of  Commons  leads  me  to  think  a  Second  Chamber 
might  have  its  uses  in  moderating  the  action  of  the  First  Chamber 
issuing  directly  from  popular  suffrages  and  representing  in  an 
exaggerated  form  the  predominant  feeling  at  the  time  of  an 
election  ;  but  the  House  of  Lords  does  not  supply  this  use. 
It  has  two  capital  defects.  It  offers  no  check  to  the  extrava- 
gances of  a  party  majority  calling  itself  Conservative,  and  its 
vote  is  (in  appearance  at  least)  absolute,  not  suspensory.  Per- 
haps we  may  feel  our  way  in  time  to  a  House  that  shall  exhibit 
the  attributes  of  a  real  Senate  in  maintaining  its  self-command 
in  the  midst  of  excitement  and  in  subjecting  to  the  criticism  of 
common  sense  whatever  comes  before  it  from  every  quarter ; 
but  it  will  be  necessary  that  it  shall  be  reinforced  by  represent- 
atives of  classes  now  practically  unrepresented  in  it  and  that 
its  power  should  be  restricted  to  a  suspensive  veto. 

During  the  autumn  holiday  Courtney  found  himself  at 
Preston  at  the  same  moment  as  the  Prime  Minister. 


September  26. — Mr.  Gladstone  at  the  station,  and  we  just 
avoided  coming  in  for  the  demonstration.  All  this  speechifying 
and  demonstrating  against  the  House  of  Lords  very  empty  and 
harmful  in  L.'s  eyes,  mere  party  speeches  talked  from  one  end 
of  the  country  to  the  other.  We  go  down  to  Putney  and  discuss 
it  with  Mr.  Morley,  who  has  gone  in  for  it  and  apparently  beheves 
in  it  all  heartily,  and  thinks  that  the  Franchise  BiU,  which  has 
been  sleeping  very  comfortably  for  many  years  in  the  Liberal 
programme,  has  suddenly  become  so  urgent  that  delay  is  almost 
a  crime. 

On  his  autumn  visit  to  his  constituents  Courtney 
defended  the  right  of  the  Lords  to  discuss  the  composition 
of  the  Lower  House,  and  approved  their  demand  that  re- 
distribution should  accompany  an  extension  of  the  franchise. 
While  his  political  friends  were  busy  picking  holes  in  the 
Upper  Chamber,  he  reminded  his  hearers  of  the  defects  of 
the  Lower.  "  The  present  House  of  Commons  falls  very 
short  of  my  ideal.  I  can  conceive  a  much  better  assembly. 
It  gives  a  wholly  disproportionate  importance  to  people  of 
wealth  and  is  too  much  consumed  by  the  spirit  of  party. 


As  the  Government  of  the  day  we  do  not  get  the  assistance 
we  ought  to  have  from  our  own  supporters.  Which  of  them 
have  led  us  to  suspect  that  we  were  going  wrong  except 
Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson,  who  deserves  all  honour  for  his  inde- 
pendence ?  I  have  complained  to  members,  Why  are  you 
not  more  independent  ?  The  House  of  Commons  is  full  of 
faults.  So  are  the  Lords.  The  Upper  Chamber  should  be 
improved  by  the  addition  of  Life  Peers  and  the  election 
of  Scottish  and  Irish  (and  perhaps  later  of  English)  Peers 
by  Proportional  Representation.  We  may  thus  gradually 
secure  a  body  which  will  keep  our  paths  straight."  "  A 
calm  speech,  with  no  party  appeal,"  wrote  Mrs.  Courtney 
in  her  Journal ;  "  quite  too  moderate  to  please  our  ardent 
Cornishmen."  It  was  indeed  the  utterance  of  an  indepen- 
dent private  Member  rather  than  of  a  Minister  of  the  Crown, 
and  once  more  revealed  his  incorrigible  tendency  to  think 
for  himself.  A  report  of  the  speech  was  sent  to  various 
friends,  who  gently  resented  its  Olympian  detachment. 

From  John  Morley  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

October  14. — Many  thanks  for  the  newspaper.  I  don't  think 
that  the  orator's  friends  have  any  reason  to  complain.  But  the 
situation  is  more  heated  than  he  supposes.  The  moment  is  not 
entirely  seasonable  for  the  confession  of  sins.  All  that  ought  to 
be  done  before  the  engagement  begins. 

The  Minister's  more  conservative  friends  rejoiced  at  his 
challenge  to  insurgent  democracy. 

From  John  Scott 

Kandy,  November  10,  1884. — I  like  your  speech  very  much. 
The  Times  reported  it  very  well.  I  am  very  glad  you  stand  by 
a  Second  Chamber.  The  whole  tone  was  manly,  independent, 
thoughtful  and  practical.  You  will  some  day  find  it  difficult  to 
run  in  the  same  team  as  Chamberlain  and  Morley. 

Despite  the  battle-cries  of  the  opposing  armies  the 
generals  were  not  averse  from  compromise,  and  when  it 
was  known  that  a  Committee  of  the  Cabinet  had  drawn  up 
a  scheme  for  the  redistribution  of  seats,  peace  was  brought 

200  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

within  sight.  When  Parliament  met  on  October  23  the 
Franchise  Bill  was  re-introduced  and  quickly  carried 
through  the  House  ;  and  outside  Parliament  Lord  SaHsbury 
and  Stafford  Northcote  met  the  Prime  Minister  and  Dilke 
and  settled  the  outlines  of  a  Redistribution  of  Seats,  Their 
fruitful  labom-s  were  to  secure  the  safe  passage  of  the 
Franchise  Bill  and  a  non-party  scheme  of  Redistribution  ; 
but  there  was  a  tiny  group  of  Liberal  Members  who  waited 
with  bated  breath  to  see  whether  the  representation  of 
minorities  formed  part  of  the  Downing  Street  compact. 

On  November  6  Courtney's  closest  personal  and  poUtical 
friend  in  the  Ministry  passed  away  after  a  few  days'  illness. 


Woke  up  as  usual  when  L.  came  in  from  the  House,  and 
asking  him  some  questions  I  could  hear  from  the  dressing-room 
that  something  was  wrong.  Then  he  came  in  and  told  me  the 
dreadful  news  in  a  tone  of  voice  I  shall  not  easily  forget.^  It 
was  a  very  deep  grief  and  a  great  loss  politically  as  well,  as  we 
felt  when  a  few  weeks  later  the  Redistribution  Bill  came  on 
and  he  left  the  Government,  protesting  with  two  or  three  against 
the  BiU.  How  different  his  position  would  have  been  had  Mr. 
Fawcett  lived  to  go  out  with  him,  as  he  undoubtedly  would  have 
done.  As  Mr.  Morley  said,  the  resignation  of  those  two  would 
have  been  an  event. 

To  Richard  Potter 

November  14. — The  loss  of  Fawcett  is  a  terrible  blow.  It  is 
hard  to  believe  that  such  abundant  and  joyous  life  has  suddenly 
ceased,  and  that  we  shall  not  again  rejoice  in  his  free  and 
courageous  talk.  I  doubt  whether  he  could  have  been  taken 
from  us  at  a  time  of  greater  political  anxiety.  The  immediate 
future  is  most  dark.  My  own  fortunes  are  mixed  up  in  the 
struggle  ;  but  I  hope  you  will  be  satisfied  that  whatever  happens 
no  step  wiU  be  taken  without  the  most  anxious  consideration. 
Kate  will  share  counsels  as  she  must  share  fortunes.  She  is 
brave  enough  for  anything.^ 

^  In  a  note  of  191 8  Lady  Courtney  adds,  "  I  never  saw  him  give  way 
so  completely  to  such  an  outburst  of  grief." 

*  Courtney  told  his  wife  that  resignation  would  mean  the  end  of  his 
official  life. 


Fawcett's  death  created  a  vacancy  in  the  Chair  of 
Political  Economy  at  Cambridge  for  which  Courtney  had 
been  a  candidate  in  1863,  and  in  view  of  his  probable 
resignation  his  thoughts  turned  for  a  moment  towards  the 
post.  Roby  sounded  a  few  of  the  electors,  Henry  Sidgwick 
amongst  them,  but  reported  against  the  plan.  Stricter  views 
as  to  the  necessity  of  residence  had  begun  to  prevail,  and  it 
was  generally  agreed  that  the  choice  would  fall  on  Alfred 

From  H.  J.  Roby 

November  18. — The  important  question  is  what  residence  you 
could  give  ;  and  I  fear  the  amount  demanded  by  the  University 
would  be  too  much  to  be  properly  compatible  with  Parliamentary 
work.  Moreover,  it  is  quite  possible  that  if  you  go  out  of  office 
you  may  not  be  long  out  ;  and  I  do  not  think  office  and  the 
Professorship  are  compatible,  though  there  are  the  instances  of 
Harcourt  and  Fawcett  to  the  contrary.  Both  are  somewhat 
special  cases.  I  think  on  the  whole  the  more  dignified  course 
would  be  not  to  be  a  candidate,  though  I  say  it  with  great 
reluctance.  I  should  think  you  would  have  no  difficulty  in 
getting  good  newspaper  emplo)anent. 

Though  on  the  threshold  of  the  Cabinet  the  Financial 
Secretary  was  told  nothing  of  the  discussions  of  the  Four. 
He  had  httle  hope  that  the  principle  would  be  adopted  by 
the  Government,  for  Gladstone  had  opposed  it  in  1867.  He 
felt  it  his  duty  nevertheless  to  forward  a  lengthy  Memoran- 
dum to  the  Prime  Minister.  ^ 

To  W.  E.  Gladstone 

November  8,  1884. — The  answer  you  gave  last  week  to  the 
enquiry  of  Sir  John  Lubbock  was  probably  such  as  he  himself 
expected  ;  but  it  must  have  left  him  and  those  who  like  myself 
agree  with  him  anxious  lest  the  principle  of  proportional  re- 
presentation should  not  receive  due  consideration  at  a  time  when 
consideration  of  it  may  be  fruitful.  The  Redistribution  Bill 
will  follow  the  Franchise  Bill,  but  the  scheme  of  the  Redistribu- 
tion Bill  must  be  formed  while  the  Franchise  Bill  is  still  in 

^  Abridged. 

202  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

process.  When  it  is  once  laid  upon  the  table  the  introduction 
of  any  new  principle  into  it  must  be  perilous  if  not  impossible. 

I  venture  to  address  you  then  on  my  own  responsibility,  and 
I  would  plead  in  justification  the  very  large  number  of  M.P.'s 
(190  or  more)  who  have  become  members  of  the  Proportional 
Representation  Society,  and  have  thus  expressed  their  approval 
of  its  principle,  and  my  own  professed  and  now  long-rooted 
sense  of  its  national  importance.  My  appreciation  of  the 
principle  of  Proportional  Representation  is  more  than  thirty 
years  old,  and  dates  before  the  recognition  of  it  in  the  Reform 
Bill  of  1853  brought  in  by  Lord  (John)  Russell  when  your  col- 
league in  the  Cabinet  of  Lord  Aberdeen ;  although  I  must 
confess  that  at  that  time  my  apprehension  of  it  was  imperfect. 
I  was,  however,  thus  early  strongly  convinced  of  the  injury 
done  to  our  national  life  by  the  deleterious  training  more  or 
less  undergone  by  every  one  who  is  drawn  into  the  political 
world,  and  by  the  loss  of  men  who  are  shut  out  of  it  as  refusing 
to  submit  to  this  training.  There  are  men  who  cannot  serve 
the  State  just  as  there  are  men  who  cannot  serve  the  Church 
because  they  cannot  subscribe,  except  in  a  non-natural  sense, 
to  all  the  articles  imposed  on  those  admitted  to  service.  Many 
persons  must  have  many  ways  of  regarding  the  same  subject ; 
but  the  vice,  which  I  have  thus  briefly  indicated,  seems  to  me 
the  spring  of  the  evils  of  our  poUtical  system.  We  deny  our- 
selves some  of  the  richest  elements  of  national  Ufe.  Parhament 
is  not  a  distillation  of  the  best  wisdom  of  the  Commonwealth. 
It  is  derived  I  will  not  say  from  contaminated  but  from  im- 
perfect sources.  I  may  remind  you  that  you  yourself  have 
been  witness  to  the  decUne  in  the  standard  of  ParUamentary 
Ufe  during  the  last  thirty  years,  and  we  must  look  to  other 
communities  of  EngUsh  origin,  to  our  Colonies  whether  attached 
or  detached  from  us,  for  the  fuller  outcome  of  what  is  yet  in 
germ  among  ourselves.  There  you  will  find  the  pubUc  good 
become  the  spoil  of  professional  poUticians,  against  whose 
domination  the  better  sort  struggle  again  and  again  to  set  them- 
selves free,  but  struggle  is  vain.  It  was,  I  suppose,  under  the 
influence  of  some  such  views  as  these  of  democratic  develop- 
ment that  Mr,  Mill  hailed  with  enthusiasm  the  revelation  of 
the  true  principle  of  representation.  It  gave  him,  he  said,  a 
new  hope. 

I  have  not  dwelt  upon  points  which  have  perhaps  more 
powerfully  attracted  the  majority  of  minds  to  proportional 
representation,  because  I  have  thought  it  due  to  you  to  go  at 
once  to  what  I  beheve  to  be  the  centre  of  the  argument.     But 


you  will  perhaps  let  me  indicate  some  of  these  points.  In  the 
first  place  we  can  have  no  security  that  the  result  of  an  election 
conducted  according  to  the  habitual  method,  i.e.  when  the 
country  is  divided  into  districts  in  each  of  which  the  majority 
of  its  electors  elect  its  representatives — corresponds  to  the 
division  of  parties  among  the  mass  of  electors.  I  speak  of 
two  parties  as  the  simplest  case.  The  two  parties  may  be 
evenly  distributed  among  all  the  divisions  of  the  country  so 
that  the  dominant  party  monopoUses  all  the  representation, 
as  is  approximately  done  in  Wales  and  Scotland.  Or,  without 
a  practical  monopoly,  a  slender  majority  on  one  side  may  pro- 
duce a  disproportionate  majority  in  the  representative  assembly. 
Or  a  majority  among  the  electors  may  fail  to  secure  even  a 
majority  among  the  elected.  Next  to  the  uncertainty  that 
must  attach  to  the  result  of  an  election  is  the  point  of  the 
enormous  power  the  system  throws  into  the  hands  of  a  small 
oscillating  fraction.  It  is  through  this  that  the  degradation 
of  the  character  of  candidates  has  been  made  most  manifest 
to  many.  It  is  through  this  that  the  tendency  arises,  which 
you  have  noted,  towards  a  gerontocracy  or  a  plutocracy.  I 
am  bound,  however,  to  add  that  there  is  some  compensation 
here,  for  it  is  through  this  that  an  earnest  minority  compels 
attention  to  its  views.  Unable  to  attain  its  proper,  direct 
representation  in  the  legislature,  it  more  or  less  tardily,  and 
with  more  or  less  of  sincerity  in  the  result,  converts  to  its  views 
candidates  who  know  that  without  its  support  their  candidature 
must  be  unavaiHng.  Closely  connected  with  the  last  point  is 
the  evil  of  the  great  turnovers  of  pohtical  parties,  which  recently 
observed  at  home  is  a  perpetually  recurring  phenomenon  in 
our  Colonies.  I  believe  that  there  are  no  such  violent  changes 
in  the  national  judgment  as  these  election  results  would  indicate. 
I  would  wish  not  to  trespass  unduly  on  your  time,  but  you 
may  perhaps  expect  me  to  say  a  word  or  two  on  the  plans  for 
realising  the  principle  of  proportional  representation,  supposing 
the  principle  is  admitted.  The  present  Umited  vote  is  an  im- 
perfect device ;  but  it  cannot  be  contested  that  it  secures  a 
far  better  representation  of  the  constituencies  to  which  it  is 
applied  than  the  method  it  superseded  or  (I  would  add)  any 
method  of  pure  majority  voting.  The  cumulative  vote  has 
been  applied  on  a  larger  scale  and  with  remarkable  success, 
as  far  as  attaining  what  was  desired,  in  School  Board  stations. 
It  has  made  the  Act  of  1870  workable,  as  it  has  secured  the 
representation  and,  in  most  Boards,  the  co-operation  of  parties 
that  under  the  older  system  have  been  fighting  for  exclusive 

204  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

possession,  and  would  be  forced,  when  in  possession,  to  make 
their  first  object  the  promotion  of  sectional  interests.  In  the 
single  transferable  vote  I  would  submit  a  method  which  would 
realise  all  the  good  the  cumulative  vote  has  secured,  while 
emancipating  the  electors  from  the  necessity  of  conforming 
to  the  directions  of  some  political  organisation  which  the  cumu- 
lative vote  undoubtedly  requires.  But  there  are  many  other 
plans,  any  one  of  which  I  should  be  ready  to  support,  tending 
towards  the  end  I  seek.  Any  coat  is  better  than  none,  and 
there  is  a  choice  of  serviceable  garments  for  those  who  wish 
to  be  clothed. 

I  cannot  conclude  without  a  few  words  on  a  subject  I  regard 
as  of  transcendent  importance  in  connection  with  this  reform. 
I  mean  Ireland.  The  future  of  Ireland  is  dark  and  threatens 
to  become  one  of  deepening  gloom.  If  we  contrast  the  Parha- 
mentary  representation  of  the  Island  with  what  it  was  twenty- 
five  years  ago,  and  then  attempt  to  picture  what  it  may  be  a 
few  years  hence  we  must  be  filled  with  anxiety.  We  may  reduce 
the  disorganisation  within  the  House  of  Commons  by  the  adop- 
tion of  adequate  rules ;  but  no  reformed  rules  can  cope  with 
the  fact  of  a  Parliamentary  representation  of  Ireland  irreconcil- 
ably opposed  with  few  exceptions  to  the  ParUamentary  connec- 
tion with  Great  Britain.  If  this  threatened  ParUamentary 
representation  did  truly  correspond  with  the  division  of  opinion 
in  Ireland,  the  conscience  of  the  nation  would  not  endure  to 
maintain  the  Union.  Home  Rule  would  be  inevitable.  Yet 
there  must  still  remcdn  within  its  confines  a  large  residue  of 
temperate  opinion,  in  the  best  sense  of  the  words  both  Liberal 
and  Conservative,  which  is  faiUng  to  secure  ParUamentary 
expression  and  is  in  imminent  danger  of  being  soon  entirely 
deprived  of  it.  With  its  waning  influence  in  the  legislature  its 
life  must  wane ;  and,  unless  my  forebodings  are  aU  false,  the 
prospect  before  us  should  compel  the  most  anxious  care  to  save 
loyal  and  rational  Irishmen  from  exclusion  from  the  ParUa- 
mentary arena.  There  is  a  strong  case  in  Great  Britain  for 
large  efforts  to  secure  proportional  representation ;  but  in 
Ireland  it  is  clamorous.  In  this  interest  I  would  most  earnestly 
beseech  a  consideration  of  the  whole  subject  before  the  day  of 
consideration  is  past. 

Ten  days  later  the  Prime  Minister  sent  a  non-committal 
acknowledgement  of  the  Memorandum. 


From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

November  20,  1884. — ^The  full  and  able  exposition  of  your 
views  on  proportional  representation,  with  which  you  have 
favoured  me,  has  been  brought  in  extenso  under  the  notice  of 
my  colleagues  in  the  Cabinet,  who  are  well  aware  of  your  title 
to  have  your  views  carefully  weighed.  I  am  sure  you  wiU 
feel  that  in  the  peculiar  circumstances  of  the  moment  I  am  not 
able  to  go  beyond  this  assurance. 

The  most  sympathetic  comment  came  from  the  Lord- 
Lieutenant  of  Ireland. 

From  Lord  Spencer 

November  11,  1884. — This  is  to  thank  you  extremely  for 
sending  me  a  copy  of  your  letter  to  Mr.  Gladstone  on  propor- 
tional representation.  My  incUnations  and  desires  are  still 
strongly  with  the  sense  of  your  letter,  but  I  feel  great  difficulties 
as  to  the  practical  nature  of  any  scheme  which  has  been  pro- 
duced. I  share  your  feeUngs  in  Fawcett's  loss.  He  would 
have  been  of  immense  use  just  now.  I  have  been  and  am  so 
occupied  with  Irish  work  that  I  have  not  been  able  to  work  up 
the  question  as  I  could  wish. 

The  difficulties  of  his  position  were  set  forth  in  a  letter 
to  Penzance. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

November  21.  —  People  have  no  doubt  been  asking  you 
whether  I  am  going  to  resign.  I  have  not  resigned  as  yet,  but 
all  things  seem  leading  that  way.  It  is  not  an  agreeable  prospect, 
especially  as  my  resignation  will  almost  certainly  be  ineffectual 
for  any  immediate  practical  purpose,  and  I  shall  be  condemned 
as  a  crotchety  man  unfit  for  business  life  if  not  as  a  disappointed, 
iU-tempered  person.  For  us  who  believe  that  the  character  of 
the  Legislature  and  through  it  of  the  nation  depends  on  this 
issue  there  is  nothing  left  but  to  bear  witness  to  what  we  hold 
to  be  the  truth,  and  so  I  look  forward  to  going  below  the  gang- 
way to  Hft  up  my  voice  in  the  wilderness.  Kate,  as  you  may 
be  sure,  is  very  much  occupied  with  this  crisis.  She  has  the 
greatest  faith  and  courage  equal  to  her  faith ;  but  it  is  rather 
hard  on  her,  and  she  chafes  a  Httle  at  the  incapacity  to  do  any- 

2o6  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

thing  and  would  like  to  rouse  Sir  John  Lubbock  and  others  to 
more  activity.  Fawcett's  death  in  this  is  a  terrible  loss  as  in 
other  things.  You  asked  about  the  Postmaster-Generalship. 
Childers  spoke  to  me  about  it  when  it  was  vacant,  saying  he 
should  urge  my  claims  if  I  should  Hke  to  move.  I  repUed  that 
as  it  seemed  not  impossible  I  should  be  out  very  soon  I  did  not 
think  it  fair  to  lay  myself  out  for  a  new  appointment,  about 
which  I  might  not  in  any  case  greatly  care. 

The  view  taken  by  most  of  his  friends  was  strongly 
against  resignation. 

From  H.  J.  Rohy 

November  i8,  1884. — If  Don  Quixote  once  mounts  his  steed. 
Heaven  knows  whither  he  will  ride  or  how  he  will  behave.  I 
wish  you  could  prevail  on  yourself  not  to  mount  him  at  aU. 
The  cause  is  not  worthy  of  it.  It  is  too  abstract,  and,  if  the 
distribution  of  seats  is  settled  in  a  few  months  the  cause,  however 
valuable,  must  go  to  sleep  for  years. 

From  John  Morley 

November  22. — I  hope  you  did  not  misunderstand  an  expres- 
sion of  mine  last  night.  When  I  said  that  I  wished  you  had 
come  out  eighteen  months  ago,  that  did  not  mean  that  I  should 
hke  to  see  you  come  out  now.  On  the  contrary,  I  shall  wholly 
regret  that  step.  Eighteen  months  ago  /  was  too  inexperienced 
in  the  House  of  Commons  to  make  any  show  against  their 
Egyptian  poUcy.  If  you  had  been  below  the  gangway,  you 
might  have  led  an  effective  protest.  All  that  is  now  too  late — 
and  some  new  start  will  have  to  be  made,  I  hate  your  making 
a  demonstration  of  this  gravity  on  a  question  where  you  will 
find  httle  sympathy — and,  I  may  say,  no  sympathy  at  all  among 
those  large  classes  who  would  most  earnestly  respond  to  your 
views  on  foreign  and  colonial  poUcy.  It  is  in  this  field  that  I, 
at  least,  hope  to  see  you  exercising  an  all-important  influence. 
We  shall  need  it  aU, 

A  confidential  interview  with  Childers  was  authorised 
by  the  Prime  Minister ;  but  the  Secretary  to  the  Treasury 
obtained  little  consolation  from  his  official  chief.  It  was 
an  anxious  week-end.  Though  nobody  knew  what  the 
Prime  Minister  was  going  to  say,  the  friends  of  minority 
representation  were  prepared  for  the  worst. 



November  29. — Opening  of  mosaic  at  St.  Jude's,  Whitechapel. 
Mr.  Matthew  Arnold,  who  was  to  give  the  address,  to  breakfast. 
We  go  down  together.  L,  takes  the  chair.  Impending  political 
events  so  engross  my  mind  that  I  hardly  heard  anything.  Mr. 
F.  Buxton  speaks  to  me  and  I  tell  him  that  L.  will  probably 
resign  on  Monday.  He  is  much  upset  and  tries  to  dissuade  him, 
and  comes  again  on  Sunday  to  do  so.  Mr.  Arthur  Elliot  is  also 
much  concerned. 

Protests  were  unavailing,  for  the  Minister  had  resolved 
to  resign  unless  the  Prime  Minister's  statement  proved 


Monday,.  December  i. — Mr.  Gladstone  announces  outline  of 
Redistribution  Bill  to  the  party.  Leonard  sends  in  his  resigna- 
tion on  hearing  it.  I  go  to  the  House,  and  for  some  time  do 
not  know  whether  he  has  resigned  or  not,  as  I  cannot  see  him. 
Finally  he  is  seen  alone  in  the  Gallery,  and  I  know  he  has  left 
the  Treasury  Bench  for  good.  Was  ever  politician  in  such  a 
minority  as  he  seemed  that  night,  with  two  or  three  forlorn  and 
depressed  allies  ?  Notwithstanding  I  felt  a  strange  triumph, 
and  never  thought  my  husband  a  bigger  man  than  I  did  that 
evening.  He  was  doing  a  momentous  thing  and  doing  it  so 
simply  and  unobtrusively  and  without  heroics  ! 

After  the  announcement  of  the  Cabinet  plans  the  Secre- 
tary to  the  Treasury  at  once  wrote  to  inform  the  Prime 
Minister  of  his  irrevocable  resolve. 

To  W.  E,  Gladstone 

December  i. — I  think  our  conversation  will  have  so  far  pre- 
pared you  that  you  will  not  be  surprised  to  receive  my  resigna- 
tion of  the  office  I  hold.  I  tender  it  with  great  regret,  for  I 
have  naturally  prized  much  the  honour  of  serving  under  you  ; 
but  with  the  judgment  I  have  been  constrained  to  form  of  the 
character  and  probable  results  of  the  Redistribution  Bill  I 
cannot  hesitate.  I  would  only  ask  you  to  believe  that  I  do  not 
take  this  step  until  after  much  and  painful  deliberation.  I 
cannot  conclude  without  thanking  you  very  sincerely  for  the 
personal  kindness  I  have  received  from  you,  a  sense  of  which 
will  always  abide  with  me  as  a  private  Member. 

2o8  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

December  i. — If  you  unhappily  quit  the  Government,  the 
Queen  and  the  country  will  lose  a  most  able  pubUc  servant,  who 
has  done  in  a  short  time  much  admirable  work.  To  this  con- 
nection I  shall  add  great  and  sincere  personal  concern.  Yet  I 
feel  we  have  no  right  to  dun  you  in  a  matter  which  you  have, 
I  know,  considered  seriously  and  with  much  pain.  I  cannot 
help,  however,  pleading  my  grey  hairs  as  an  apology  for  stating 
to  you  that  the  step,  even  if  at  the  last  unavoidable,  is,  as  I 
think,  premature.  It  is  in  my  opinion,  and  according  to  my 
experience,  a  fixed  rule  of  English  administration  that  an  of&cial 
Member  of  ParUament,  not  yet  in  the  Cabinet,  only  becomes 
responsible  for  any  proceeding  of  the  Government  outside  his 
department  when  as  a  Member  of  ParUament  he  has  to  take  his 
line  in  regard  to  it.  This  you  will  not  do  until  the  question  of 
proportional  representation  shall  be  raised  upon  the  Bill.  It  is 
most  important  on  general  grounds  that  this  rule  should  not 
be  further  tightened.  I  hope,  then,  you  will  consider  the 
decision  as  suspended.  But  I  go  a  step  further.  I  believe  that 
judges  of  great  weight  deem  our  proposal  of  one-Member  districts 
well  adapted  to  the  condition  of  Ireland,  which,  I  also  believe, 
has  much  to  do  with  the  resolution  you  announce.  Would 
you  not  hear  Lord  Spencer  on  this  subject  ?  And  if  so  allow 
me  to  arrange  for  your  calling  upon  him.  Pray  do  not  deem 
this  a  worrying  letter. 

To  W.  E.  Gladstone 

December  i. — I  am  bound  by  every  consideration  of  duty 
and  of  incUnation  to  reply  at  once  to  your  very  kind  letter.  I 
would  gladly  consider  my  resignation  suspended  were  that 
possible  consistently  with  my  estimate  of  the  facts  of  the  situa- 
tion ;  but  indeed  that  is  not  possible.  The  Redistribution  Bill 
will  probably  pass  without  material  change  ;  but,  as  I  am  driven 
to  the  conclusion  that  it  will  have  a  painfully  injurious  effect 
on  our  poUtical  Ufe,  I  am  bound  to  bear  my  testimony,  however 
unavailing,  against  it,  and  if  I  am  to  bear  any  testimony  I  must 
not  delay  the  first  witness  of  resignation.  I  am  glad  to  under- 
stand Lord  Spencer  takes  a  favourable  view  of  the  operation 
of  the  Bill  in  Ireland,  and  should,  of  course,  be  deUghted  to  see 
him  personally  as  you  suggest,  but  I  am  afraid  I  cannot  antici- 
pate any  effect  of  an  interview  in  modifying  my  conclusion. 
The  great  kindness  of  your  letter  would  have  constrained  me 
could  any  argument  have  prevailed. 


Letters   of   regret   or   congratulation   poured   in   from 
Ministers,  Treasury  colleagues,  and  personal  friends. 

From  Lord  Spencer 

December  2. — I  am  extremely  sorry  to  hear  that  you  have 
resigned.  I  do  not  write  with  any  idea  of  influencing  your 
action,  or  because  any  opinions  of  mine  are  worthy  of  your 
consideration,  but  merely  to  express  my  great  regret  that  the 
Government  has  lost  so  able  a  member.  Personally  I  shall  miss 
you  very  much  at  the  Treasury,  as  I  have  in  not  unfrequent 
communications  had  the  greatest  satisfaction  in  discussing 
Treasury  matters  with  you.  I  may  also  say  that  as  I  sympathise 
warmly  with  your  views  on  Minority  Representation,  I  regret 
that  you  find  yourself  obliged  to  part  with  Mr.  Gladstone  upon 
the  question. 

From  Lord  Edmond  Fitzmaurice 
{Under-Secretary  for  Foreign  Affairs) 

December  2. — I  need  hardly  tell  you  with  how  much  regret 
I  have  learnt  we  are  to  be  no  longer  colleagues.  I  had  always 
believed  you  would  be  the  next  person  admitted  into  the  Cabinet, 
and  this  feeUng  makes  me  admire  your  determination  all  the 
more.  I  regret  very  much  the  cutting  up  of  our  large  towns 
into  wards  for  the  purposes  of  election.  With  the  exception  of 
W.  E.  Forster,  I  have  heard  nobody  say  a  word  in  favour  of  it, 
and  I  believe  it  will  be  most  unpopular  in  the  towns  themselves. 
But  on  this,  as  on  the  question  of  minority  representation,  the 
Tories,  whom  we  have  to  thank  for  the  arrangement,  have 
not  been  able  to  look  at  anything  except  temporary  poUtical 
advantage  ;  and  even  as  to  that  they  are  probably  mistaken. 

From  Lord  Bramwell 

December  2. — I  am  very  sorry  to  hear  of  your  resignation. 
Is  it  necessary  ?  The  Ministry  will  lose  their  best  man.  I  say 
it  and  mean  it. 

From  Mrs,  Fawcett 

December  2. — I  am  so  glad  of  the  news  in  this  morning's 
paper  ;  and  I  wish  to  send  you  and  Mrs.  Courtney  this  Hne  of 
congratulation.  You  know,  I  am  sure,  you  would  not  have 
been  alone  in  this  action  of  yours  if  Harry  had  been  here  to  join 


210  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

you.    He  often  spoke  of  this  to  me.     It  will  be  harder  for  you 

now  to  fight  your  battle  single-handed ;  but  you  have  plenty  of 
strength  and  courage,  Mrs.  Courtney  must  be  very  proud  and 
happy  to  see  her  husband  fighting  "  where  what  he  most  doth 
value  must  be  won." 

From  William  Stebhing 

December  2. — In  one  sense  I  am  exceedingly  sorry.  Your 
rise  to  high  official  rank  appeared  so  certain  and  easy.  But  in 
another  and  superior  sense  I  admire  you  for  the  act,  though 
it  is  only  what  I  should  have  anticipated  from  you. 

From  H,  J.  Roby 

December  2. — So  you  have  done  the  deed  and  recovered  your 
liberty  to  protest.  Well,  I  dare  say  you  feel  mentally  more 
comfortable,  but  I  am  sorry  it  has  come  to  this,  and  if  it  was  to 
come  to  this,  wish  you  had  a  reason  which  commanded  more 
of  my  sympathy.     But  conscience  does  make  fanatics  of  some. 

The  resignation  of  a  thrifty  financier  was  lamented  by 
his  brother  watch-dogs  of  the  Treasury. 

From  Sir  Reginald  Welby 

December  2. — I  see  with  great  regret  that  we  are  to  lose  you. 
There  are  of  course  convictions  which  admit  of  no  compromise 
and  I  am  the  last  man  to  wish  that  any  one  of  note  in  public 
life  should  sacrifice  such  convictions.  But  at  the  same  time 
both  personally  and  in  the  pubHc  interest  I  sincerely  regret 
your  determination.  The  first  and  foremost  duty  of  the 
Treasury  is  defence  of  the  EngUsh  tax-payer,  and  strange  to  say 
the  EngUsh  tax-payer  appears  to  resent  such  care  of  his  interest. 
But  if  the  interest  is  neglected  the  State  will  suffer.  The  old 
generation  of  statesmen  appreciated  this  consideration.  The 
new  one  does  not,  and  I  should  have  been  heartily  glad  to  keep 
at  the  Treasury  as  a  Chief  almost  the  only  one  of  the  new 
generation  to  whom  the  old  tradition  of  the  Treasury  recom- 
mended itself.  I  hope  your  separation  from  the  Government 
will  be  but  temporary. 

The  Minister's  regret  at  leaving  his  post  was  as  keen 
as  that  of  his  colleagues. 


To  Sir  Algernon  West  ^ 

December  8. — I  am  very  sorry  to  sever  my  of&cial  connection 
with  the  Treasury  ;  yet  I  think  I  may  pledge  myself  to  continue 
faithful  to  my  interest  in  it.  If  a  voice  is  wanted  in  the  House 
I  will  not  be  silent.  Assuredly  my  work  was  made  Ughter  and 
easier  by  your  co-operation. 

On  December  4  the  late  Minister  seized  the  opportunity 
of  the  Second  Reading  of  the  Redistribution  Bill  to  make 
the  customary  speech  of  explanation. 


December  4. — I  go  to  the  Speaker's  Gallery  and  sit  in  front 
of  Mrs.  Gladstone  while  Leonard  makes  his  protest.  A  sincere 
and  earnest  speech,  in  parts  eloquent  but  not  at  his  best.  Mrs. 
Gladstone  rather  characteristically  says  to  me,  "  My  dear, 
I  had  no  idea  your  husband  was  such  a  clever  man."  The 
Prime  Minister  passes  it  by  with  a  jesting  answer,  and  half  the 
House  professes  not  to  understand  L.'s  explanation  of  the  single 
transferable  vote, — followed  and  understood  by  large  audiences 
of  a  lower  class  later  on. 

The  speech  opened  with  a  friendly  tribute  to  the  Prime 
Minister,  "  He  appealed  to  me  to  remain  in  tones  of 
kindness  which  I  shall  ever  remember.  Nothing  but  the 
strength  of  my  conscientious  conviction  would  have  upheld 
my  resolve.  Let  me  tender  him  my  most  hearty  thanks 
for  the  kindness  he  has  ever  exhibited,  and  say  that  in 
parting  from  him  I  feel  my  attachment  to  him  increased 
rather  than  diminished."  Turning  to  the  cause  of  his 
resignation  he  asked  the  question,  Why  do  I  so  solemnly 
protest  against  the  creation  of  these  new  single-Member 
constituencies  ?  The  answer  was  threefold.  It  was  a 
departure  from  the  old  lines  of  the  Constitution.  It  was 
not  truly  representative  of  opinion.  It  would  lower  the 
character  of  Members  of  Parliament.  After  the  elucidation 
of  technical  details  and  the  citation  of  American  illustra- 
tions came  the  peroration,  rendered  poignant  by  a  reference 

^  Sir  Algernon  West,  Recollections,  ii.  221. 

212  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

to  the  death  of  Fawcett.  "  You  would  nowhere  have 
people  with  their  power  thrown  away.  You  would  have  a 
reflection  of  the  national  will  and  the  national  wisdom. 
There  would  be  no  single  artisan  or  agricultural  labourer 
or  man  of  learning  who  would  not  be  able  to  say.  There  is 
somebody  in  the  House  for  whom  I  voted  who  represents 
me.  No  such  promise  of  freedom  can  be  secured  by  any 
other  machinery.  I  cannot  sufficiently  deplore  my  own 
want  of  power  to  preach  this  gospel.  If  the  proceedings 
of  this  night  had  occurred  one  short  month  ago  I  should 
not  have  been  alone  in  deserting  that  bench  or  in  advocat- 
ing this  cause.  Those  who  shared  his  counsel,  who  knew 
his  thoughts,  who  accompanied  him  so  many  years  in  his 
pohtical  hfe,  cannot  do  him  more  honour  than  in  being 
faithful  to  the  doctrines  he  held.  I  for  my  part  would  pray 
to  God  to  be  faithful  to  this  cause." 

The  Prime  Minister  at  once  rose  to  reply,  and  returned 
the  compliments  of  his  dissentient  colleague.  "  In  his 
departure  from  the  service  of  the  Crown  and  of  the  nation 
we  have  sustained  a  heavy  loss.  In  that  official  career, 
though  not  very  lengthened,  he  has  made  his  mark  upon 
the  administrative  business  of  the  country ;  and  to  this 
acknowledgment  of  the  past  I  desire  to  add  an  expression 
of  a  fervent  hope  for  the  future — that  either  with  this  or 
with  some  other  Government  congenial  to  him  he  may  for 
many  long  years  be  united  without  the  mitoward  occur- 
rences or  impediments  such  as  have  now  deprived  us  of 
his  valuable  services."  Passing  to  the  subject  at  issue  he 
conceded  that  any  and  every  plan  was  open  not  only  to 
plausible  but  to  real  objections,  and  that  in  much  of  his 
criticism  the  ex-Secretary  to  the  Treasury  had  stood  on 
sohd  ground.  WTien,  however,  he  had  come  to  develop 
his  own  scheme,  "  which  he  worships  as  embodying  some- 
thing very  near  to  pohtical  perfection,"  the  sympathy  of 
the  House  had  begun  to  fail.  His  proposal,  indeed,  though 
certified  as  simple  enough,  was  in  truth  a  pons  asinorum 
which  very  few  Members  would  be  able  to  cross.  But 
whether  the  system  were  complicated  or  the  reverse,  he 
had  exaggerated  both  its  merits  and  the  evils  which  it  was 


designed  to  cure.  Why  should  such  condemnation  be 
poured  on  the  single  -  Member  constituency,  which  had 
returned  many  of  the  most  eminent  members  of  the  House 
and  was  adopted  all  over  the  world  ?  If  the  system  was 
so  disastrous,  such  universal  approval  and  acquiescence 
would  be  inexpHcable.  The  Government  had  been  con- 
fronted by  a  choice  of  evils  ;  and  when  the  Bill  reached 
Committee  alterations  could  be  freely  discussed. 

The  speech  was  a  dexterous  effort  in  the  Prime 
Minister's  lighter  vein.  His  task  was  facilitated  by  the 
fact  that  the  motion  before  the  House  was  for  the  second 
reading  of  a  first-class  measm-e,  and  that  it  was  hardly  the 
occasion  for  a  detailed  rejoinder  to  a  technical  disquisition 
on  a  single  issue.  Courtney,  on  the  other  hand,  was 
justified  in  claiming  that  Gladstone  had  contested  none  of 
his  facts.  Except  for  a  reasoned  argument  from  Sir  John 
Lubbock  the  debate  paid  Httle  attention  to  Proportional 
Representation  ;  and  it  was  obvious  to  friends  and  foes 
alike  that  the  House  would  never  take  the  question  seriously 
until  the  electorate  had  been  wooed  if  not  won.  When  the 
Bill  reached  Committee,  Sir  John  Lubbock,  supported  by 
Courtney  and  Albert  Grey,  moved  for  the  introduction  of 
the  principle  ;  but  only  thirty-one  Members  found  their 
way  into  the  division  lobby.  A  final  protest  came  from 
the  ex-Minister  on  the  Third  Reading. 

Despite  the  friendly  gestures  of  farewell,  the  resigning 
Minister  felt  no  pang  in  parting  from  his  chief.  "  Even 
apart  from  his  rather  rugged  poUtical  independence,"  writes 
Lord  Fitzmaurice,  "  few  mental  links  existed  between  his 
general  outlook  and  that  of  Mr.  Gladstone.  Indeed  most 
of  their  mental  characteristics  were  almost  of  an  opposite 
character.  Nobody  ever  misunderstood  what  Courtney 
meant,  nor  was  his  mind  in  a  state  of  constant  and  fre- 
quently unexpected  development  Uke  that  of  Mr.  Gladstone. 
He  held  the  pure  and  undiluted  doctrine  of  the  poUtical 
economic  school  of  Bentham  and  Mill,  and  never  swerved 
from  one  jot  or  tittle  of  the  law.  Now  this  school  was  one 
with  which  Mr.  Gladstone's  mind  had  neither  sympathy 
nor  affinity  at  any  time.     Courtney's  mind  in  fact,  trained 

214  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

not  in  the  casuistries  of  Oxford  theology  but  essentially 
conditioned  by  the  hard  if  somewhat  narrow  school  of 
Cambridge  studies,  was  the  exact  opposite  of  the  clerical 
mind.  Therefore  although  affection  for  sound  finance  and 
economy,  and  a  strong  disUke  for  South  African  poUtical 
adventures,  brought  Mr.  Gladstone  and  him  occasionally 
into  hne  together  at  an  early  date  in  the  Parliament  which 
had  lasted  untU  1880,  mental  sympathy  there  would  be  little 
or  none  between  two  natures  so  differently  constituted. "  The 
analysis  of  temperamental  difference  is  perfectly  correct ; 
but  it  was  an  ironical  coincidence  that  on  the  occasion  of 
their  parting  the  illustrious  casuist  should  be  found  guard- 
ing the  broad  highway  and  reminding  his  lieutenant  of  the 
Umitations  of  the  common  man. 

It  is  no  part  of  the  biographer's  duty  to  deliver  judge- 
ment on  Courtney's  resignation  of  office.  He  acted  after 
mature  dehberation  and  in  spite  of  the  protest  of  his  friends. 
He  had  counted  the  cost,  and  he  never  complained  of  the 
price  that  he  was  called  upon  to  pay.  Whether  he  was 
justified  in  attaching  such  transcendent  importance  to  a 
question  of  poUtical  machinery  will  be  answered  in  different 
ways  according  to  our  estimate  of  the  need  and  practi- 
cal value  of  Proportional  Representation.  StiU  less  is  it 
posf/^ible  to  determine  with  general  assent  what  issues  are 
grave  enough  to  compel  a  Minister,  who  is  not  a  member 
of  the  Cabinet,  to  quit  his  post.  The  ethics  of  resignation 
are  not  an  exact  science,  and  there  wiU  always  be  marginal 
cases  in  which  the  only  guidance  is  to  be  found  in  the 
individual  conscience.  Courtney's  action  in  1884  belongs 
to  the  same  category  as  Gladstone's  resignation  on  the 
Maynooth  Grant  in  1845  ;  and  in  explaining  his  conduct  to 
his  constituents  he  quoted  the  poignant  words  of  the  chief 
from  whom  he  had  parted.  "The  choice  before  me  was 
to  support  the  measure  or  to  retire  into  a  position  of  com- 
plete isolation,  and,  what  is  more,  subject  to  the  grave  and 
general  imputation  of  political  eccentricity.  It  is  not  pro- 
fane if  I  say.  With  a  great  price  obtained  I  this  freedom. 
In  giving  up  what  I  highly  prized  I  felt  myself  open  to  the 
charge  of  being  opinionated  and  wanting  in  deference  to 


great  authorities ;  and  I  could  not  but  know  that  I  should 
be  regarded  as  fastidious  or  fanciful,  and  fitter  for  a  dreamer 
than  for  pubUc  life  in  a  busy  and  moving  age."  While  the 
mass  of  men  looked  on  with  slightly  contemptuous  bewilder- 
ment, there  were  not  a  few  who  rejoiced  to  discover  that  a 
public  servant  of  the  front  rank  was  willing  to  sacrifice  his 
position  and  to  jeopardise  his  political  career  in  vindication 
of  a  life-long  conviction. 

Among  the  grounds  of  resignation  was  the  probable 
effect  of  the  Bill  in  wiping  out  the  Liberal  element  in  Ireland 
and  handing  over  the  country  body  and  soul  to  Parnell. 
His  views  were  shared  by  the  O'Conor  Don,  who  emphasised 
the  danger  in  forcible  terms. 

From  the  O'Conor  Don 

December  7,  1884. — Allow  me  to  express  my  great  admiration 
for  the  practical  proof  you  have  given  of  the  sincerity  of  your 
convictions  by  your  resignation  of  office.  Whatever  this  same 
Bill  may  do  in  Great  Britain,  its  effects  in  Ireland  will  beyond 
all  question  be  most  disastrous.  I  cannot  see  how  we  can  stop 
short  I  will  not  say  merely  of  "  Repeal "  but  of  "  Separation." 
The  Franchise  and  Seats  BiUs  taken  together  will  absolutely 
extinguish  aU  Liberal  representation  in  Ireland  outside  the 
ranks  of  those  who  will  be  pledged  to  "  separation."  It  may 
be  that  the  Bill  will  leave  a  few  Tory  seats  in  the  North  of  Ireland, 
but  as  to  Liberal  seats  as  distinguished  from  Nationalists  there 
will  be  none,  or  so  few  that  I  may  say  none.  If  this  represented 
the  real  feeling  of  Ireland  it  would  be  all  right ;  but  it  will  not 
do  so.  A  large  minority  in  the  three  provinces  of  Leinster, 
Munster  and  Connaught  will  be  wholly  unrepresented,  and  a 
Liberal  Government  will  have  to  face  the  whole  Irish  repre- 
sentative body  as  hostile — either  extreme  Tories  or  Nationalists. 

Courtney  forwarded  the  letter  to  the  Prime  Minister, 
who  was  so  obsessed  by  the  complexity  of  minority  repre- 
sentation that  no  Irish  or  other  arguments  could  shake  him. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

December  19. — ^Thank  you  for  your  letter  with  its  inclosures 
and  the  letter  of  the  O'Conor  Don.     I  believe  my  description 

2i6  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

of  the  general  merits  of  the  House  of  Commons  on  the  first 
hearing  of  your  plan  was  true  and  that  few  were  able  to  pay 
the  toll  upon  the  bridge.  There  is  great  advantage  in  studying 
it  on  paper,  and  the  case  of  the  capable  citizen  becomes  more 
hopeful,  without  the  smallest  reproach  to  the  deliverer  of  the 
oral  explanation.  Doubtless  there  are  many  other  points  to  be 
considered  besides  intelligibility,  but  even  on  this  last  ground 
I  still  fear  there  would  be  many  victims. 

Though  the  Prime  Minister  had  hardened  his  heart. 
Lord  Acton  was  a  convinced  supporter,  and  told  Mary 
Gladstone  that  a  friend  whom  he  had  met  at  dinner  "  was 
a  little  shocked  to  find  that  I  agree  with  Courtney."  ^ 

When  Parliament  adjourned  for  the  Christmas  holidays 
on  December  6,  Courtney  started  on  a  campaign  in  the 
country,  in  which  his  principal  allies  were  his  Parliamentary 
colleagues,  Sir  John  Lubbock  and  Albert  Grey,  afterwards 
Earl  Grey.  The  mission  opened  in  Manchester,  where  his 
host,  Mr.  C.  P.  Scott,  then  and  now  Editor  and  Proprietor 
of  the  Manchester  Guardian,  was  a  zealous  friend  of  the 
cause.  The  first  gathering  was  held  at  the  Reform  Club 
with  Mr.  Scott  in  the  chair.  His  proposal  was  presented  ^ 
as  "  steeped  in  the  essence  of  democracy  "  and  "  containing 
within  itself  the  realisation  of  the  widest  conception  of 
popular  sovereignty."  Mr.  Gladstone,  in  his  reply  in  the 
House  of  Commons,  had  never  ventured  to  question  his 
facts  or  refute  his  arguments,  or  to  deny  the  assertion  that 
a  majority  of  Members  had  been  returned  by  a  minority 
of  electors  in  England  and  the  United  States.  For  instance, 
the  Conservative  majority  of  1874  was  secured  by  a  minority 
of  voters.  That  was  the  first  and  fatal  objection  to  the 
single-Member  constituency, — ^that  a  Parliament  sometimes 
represented  the  minority  instead  of  the  majority.  The 
second  was  that  it  failed  to  secure  the  representation  of  the 
different  modes  of  thinking  and  living.  For  instance,  the 
working  class  had  enjoyed  the  franchise  since  1867,  but 
were  virtually  without  representatives.  "  The  upper  classes 
are  as  kindly  natured  as  the  lower  ;    but  their  experience 

^  Letters  to  Mary  Gladstone,  157. 
'  The  address  was  published  as  a  pamphlet. 


has  not  made  them  famihar  with  the  trials  of  the  poor, 
any  more  than  the  experience  of  the  poor  has  made  them 
famihar  with  the  tasks  of  the  rich.  What  we  want  in 
Parhament  is  the  presence  of  both,  instructing  one  another, 
raising  one  another,  and  making  Parhament  a  reflex  of  the 
temper,  the  will,  the  intelligence  and  the  knowledge  of  the 
kingdom.  You  would  get  such  a  revival  of  spirit  and  of 
hfe  that  when  this  ideal  is  secured  a  miracle  would  be 
wrought  throughout  the  kingdom  not  inferior  to  the  miracle 
of  the  Valley  of  Dry  Bones.  A  town  would  be  represented 
as  a  whole  and  not  in  fragments,  and  every  class  and  school 
of  thought  would  have  its  spokesman  and  champion." 

Next  evening  a  meeting  was  held  in  the  Free  Trade 

To  his  Wife 

December  18. — It  was  grand.  We  had  not  a  full  hall  but 
still  a  large  number,  all  keenly  interested.  Up  to  the  time 
of  voting  I  did  not  know  whether  we  should  carry  our  resolution. 
It  was  carried  by  about  three  to  two. 

On  the  following  day  he  joined  Albert  Grey,  who  had 
already  begun  a  campaign  in  the  mining  villages  of  Durham 
and  was  full  of  schemes  for  the  furtherance  of  the  gospel. 

From  Albert  Grey 

December  9. — If  you  can  only  succeed  in  winning  the  miners 
as  a  class,  I  have  hopes  that  we  may  also  succeed  in  winning  the 
Tories  as  a  party.  I  am  holding  my  meetings  in  the  pit  districts 
as  private  meetings.  They  are  unreported,  and  this  enables 
me  to  make  use  freely  of  arguments  which  I  would  not  dare  to 
use  if  what  I  said  was  to  be  read  by  the  Tory  farmer.  I  am 
anxious,  however,  to  secure  the  miners  first  and  do  not  intend 
to  approach  the  Tories  until  after  Christmas.  By  that  time  my 
work  in  the  pit  districts  will  be  done.  If  on  the  meeting  of 
Parliament  I  could  bring  up  from  Northumberland  a  numerously 
and  plentifully  signed  petition  in  favour  of  the  county  being 
made  into  one  instead  of  four  constituencies  and  its  representative 
being  elected  by  the  Hare  Principle,  something  at  any  rate 
would  have  been  done  to  answer  Gladstone's  challenge  that 

2i8  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

we  must  first  obtain  an  entry  for  our  views  into  the  minds  of 
the  people  before  we  ask  the  House  of  Lords  to  Hsten  to  us. 
I  beUeve  if  we  had  time  we  could  carry  every  single  county, 
but  we  have  only  the  one  short  month  of  January. 

The  campaign  inspired  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson  to  one  of 
his  whimsical  outbursts. 

I  agree,  Mr.  Grey, 

With  near  all  you  say 
On  the  evils  we  suffer  from  now. 

Then  you  point  out  a  scheme 

Which  will  cure  them,  you  deem. 
But  I  own  that  I  don't  quite  see  how. 

We  move  by  slow  stages 

And  live  in  dark  ages, 
Slow  Cometh  the  dawning  of  day. 

Things  would  go  wrong,  I  guess, 

With  the  papers,  unless 
They  were  counted  by  Courtney  and  Grey. 

Still  I'm  struck  by  some  twinkling. 

And  have  a  small  inkling. 
That  your  plan  after  all  may  be  good. 

So  just  work  away, 

Courtney,  Lubbock  and  Grey, 
Till  you  make  yourselves  right  understood. 

After  the  two  missionaries  had  addressed  some  miners' 
meetings,  Courtney  went  on  to  Newcastle  to  stay  with 
Dr.  Spence  Watson,  whence  he  reported  himself  "  in  very 
good  spirits  with  the  star  tour  in  the  provinces."  Return- 
ing home  for  Christmas  he  was  soon  off  again,  and  carried 
the  fiery  cross  through  the  great  cities  as  far  north  as 
Glasgow.  Test  elections  were  frequently  held,  and  for  the 
first  time  the  theory  and  practice  of  Proportional  Repre- 
sentation were  expounded  to  large  audiences  with  perfect 
clarity  and  apostolic  fervour.  "  This  rowdy  platformery  and 
fierce  democratic  agitation  evidently  suits  you  after  all," 
wrote  John  Morley,  good-humouredly  turning  the  tables  on 
the  critic  of  his  own  campaign  against  the  Lords.  "  F. 
reports  you  as  in  famous  spirits.  I  know  that  I  shall  come 
upon  you  bawling  out  of  a  carriage  window  at  Preston  one 


of  these  days."  Two  months  later,  when  the  struggle  was 
over,  Courtney  surveyed  the  loss  and  gain  in  a  letter  to  the 
Chairman  of  the  American  Committee  for  Proportional 
Representation,  who  had  written  to  congratulate  him  on 
his  unselfish  devotion  to  the  cause. 

To  Mr.  Stern 

March  13,  1885. — The  newspapers  will  have  told  you  of  our 
Parliamentary  failure.  This  was  certain  from  the  outset,  but 
I  confess  I  did  not  think  we  should  have  been  so  badly  beaten. 
There  are  few  who  care  to  be  found  unnecessarily  on  the  losing 
side,  and  many  who  were  clamorous  in  the  beginning  in  denuncia- 
tion of  the  division  of  our  big  towns  are  now  not  merely  silent 
but  cheerfully  accepting  the  situation.  The  private  agreement 
between  the  heads  of  the  two  great  parties  was  our  death-blow. 
The  remonstrants,  whether  Liberals  against  the  Government 
or  Conservatives  against  the  Conservative  chiefs,  have  dropped 
away  as  they  perceived  that  if  they  would  save  their  lives 
politically  they  must  go  with  their  chiefs.  Thus  the  Parlia- 
mentary failure  of  our  movement  has  been  sad.  We  have  had, 
however,  eminent  cause  of  satisfaction  in  the  progress  we  have 
made  in  the  country.  We  have  had  meetings  open  to  all  comers, 
when  our  principles  and  plans  have  been  expounded  with  nearly 
unvarying  success.  Opponents  have  come,  and  have  declared 
their  adverse  judgment  and  even  attempted  to  persuade  the  audi- 
ences, but  in  vain.  With  two  exceptions  we  have  carried  our 
meetings  with  considerable  and  sometimes  overwhelming  majori- 
ties. We  have  disseminated  a  large  mass  of  literature.  We  have 
held  test  elections.  Debating  societies  and  political  clubs  have 
been  furnished  with  ballot  papers  and  instructions  and  have  held 
elections  of  their  own.  In  this  way  much  seed  has  been  sown 
and  we  are  sanguine  it  will  bear  fruit.  We  shall  now  look  forward 
to  the  coming  General  Election  which  will  probably  illustrate 
our  arguments  in  the  most  forcible  fashion.  I  cannot  conclude 
without  a  word  of  thanks  for  your  kind  expressions  relatively 
to  myself.  I  do  not  anticipate  any  injury  at  least  in  the  long 
run,  and  for  the  present  I  am  relieved  from  much  that  was 
painful.  Indeed  I  congratulate  myself  on  having  resigned  at 
the  time  I  did,  as  it  would  have  been  most  hard  and  yet  most 
necessary  to  have  resigned  subsequently  on  the  new  development 
of  the  Soudan  policy  of  the  Government. 



After  the  suppression  of  Arabi's  rebellion  in  1882  Egypt 
ceased  for  a  short  time  to  attract  much  public  notice  ;  but 
the  rise  of  the  Mahdi  and  the  disaster  to  Hicks  Pasha  in 
1883  again  turned  all  eyes  to  the  valley  of  the  Nile,  and  led 
the  Khedive,  on  British  advice,  to  abandon  the  Sudan. 
When  Gordon  was  despatched  in  1884  to  withdraw  the 
Europeans  and  the  Mahdist  flood  rolled  round  Khartum, 
the  country  concentrated  its  gaze  with  passionate  intensity 
on  the  fortunes  of  the  beleaguered  garrison.  As  summer 
passed  into  autumn  and  autumn  into  winter  the  progress 
of  the  reUeving  force  was  followed  with  hungry  anxiety, 
and  a  great  volume  of  popular  anger  accumulated,  ready 
to  descend  on  the  head  of  the  Government  if  help  should 
come  too  late.  The  gathering  tragedy  impelled  Courtney 
to  reconsider  his  qualified  acceptance  of  the  policy  of 
intervention  in  1882.  "  I  am  a  little  disposed,"  he  declared 
to  his  constituents  in  October,  "  to  ask  myself  whether,  if 
we  could  begin  again,  we  should  go  to  Egypt  at  all."  Before 
long  he  was  to  reach  the  definite  conclusion  that  it  had  been 
a  mistake,  and  that  Bright's  resignation  had  been  an  act  of 
wisdom  as  well  as  of  courage. 

Khartum  fell  on  January  26,  1885  ;  but  the  expected 
news  of  the  hero's  death  only  reached  London  on  February  5. 
During  the  brief  period  of  agonising  suspense  Courtney 
addressed  his  constituents  on  "  the  one  pressing  question 
of  the  hour,"  appealing  over  the  heads  of  his  Uttle  audience 
at  Torpoint  to  the  Prime  Minister  to  stand  firm  against  the 

CHAP.  XI  THE  SUDAN  .  221 

hurricane  of  passion  that  was  sweeping  through  the  land. 
Gordon,  he  declared,  had  disobeyed  orders,  and  instead  of 
withdrawing  the  European  garrisons  had  determined  to 
"  smash  the  Mahdi."  We  had  done  our  best  to  save  him, 
but  we  had  failed.  "  I  ask  those  who  say  we  must  still  go 
and  attack  the  Mahdi,  even  though  the  man  we  wish  to  rescue 
is  dead,  to  tell  me  on  what  ground  of  moraUty  and  policy 
you  justify  such  an  attack  ?  It  is  said  you  must  fight  him 
sooner  or  later.  Why  ?  Because  he  has  considerable  power 
in  the  Sudan.  But  do  you  wish  to  destroy  his  power  in 
the  Sudan  ?  Oh  no,  they  say.  But  he  will  advance  into 
Egypt.  But  had  you  not  better  wait  and  attack  him  as 
he  advances  ?  We  know  the  difficulty  of  going  into  the 
Sudan  and  fighting  him  there.  In  Eg5rpt  we  should  be 
near  our  base  ;  and  we  should  be  fighting  in  self-defence 
If  I  stood  alone  and  every  one  else  in  England  were  on  the 
other  side,  I  would  protest  against  the  notion  of  waging  war 
against  the  Mahdi  simply  for  the  purpose  of  showing  our 
might.  The  crimes  that  have  been  committed  on  the  plea 
that  you  must  beat  a  man  who  is  getting  too  powerful  are 
unnumbered,  and  please  God  we  wiU  not  add  to  them.  If 
you  crush  the  Mahdi,  what  wiU  you  put  in  his  place  ?  You 
will  be  confronted  with  a  bigger  problem  than  you  have  on 
your  hands  in  Eg5^t.  I  should  be  the  slowest  of  all  to 
beUeve  that  an  English  Government  with  Mr.  Gladstone  at 
its  head  would  give  countenance  to  it." 

It  required  no  small  courage  to  criticise  the  hero  of  the 
hour  and  to  rebuke  the  fierce  cry  for  revenge.  But  it  was 
not  his  habit  to  wait  for  either  leaders  or  comrades  when 
there  was  work  to  be  done.  His  reference  to  Gordon's 
neglect  of  instructions  brought  a  protest  from  the  "  only 
begetter  "  of  the  mission  that  had  ended  in  heroic  tragedy. 

From  W.  T.  Stead 

February  19. — When  you  spoke  in  the  West  you  were 
evidently  under  a  misconception  as  to  the  scope  and  extent  of 
General  Gordon's  mission.  Might  I  take  the  liberty  of  asking 
you  to  glance  at  the  enclosed  pamphlet,  which  your  reflections 
upon  his  memory  and  others  of  like  nature  have  driven  me  to 

222  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

publish  ?  If  on  reading  this  statement  of  facts  you  are  con- 
vinced that  you  did  Gordon  an  injustice,  I  am  sure  you  will 
lose  no  time  in  saying  so  as  publicly  as  you  said  what  you  did 
about  his  exceeding  his  instructions. 

To  W.  T.  Stead 

February  21. — I  am  obUged  to  you  for  your  letter  and  early 
copy  of  your  extra.  I  hope  I  should  be  ready  to  correct  publicly 
any  misstatement  I  had  made  respecting  General  Gordon  if 
convinced  of  the  misstatement,  but  I  cannot  see  that  I  have 
been  guilty  of  this,  I  have  said  that  "  smashing  the  Mahdi  was 
no  part  of  his  original  instructions,"  and  this  statement  appears 
to  me  true  in  letter  and  spirit.  In  my  speech  in  Cornwall  I 
was  examining  the  question  what  it  is  incumbent  on  us  to  do 
now,  having  regard  to  the  poHcy  of  the  Government,  and  I 
pointed  out  that  "  smashing  the  Mahdi "  had  not  been  part  of 
their  poHcy.  The  instructions  given  the  General  at  starting 
did  not  extend  to  this ;  his  memorandum  written  on  board 
shows  that  at  the  time  he  was  conscious  of  a  divergence  of  views 
between  himself  and  the  Government,  but  was  ready  to  work 
out  the  more  Umited  task,  or  at  least  to  attempt  it.  Sub- 
sequently he  insisted  on  the  necessity  of  doing  more  ;  but  I  do 
not  know  that  the  Government  ever  admitted  this  necessity, 
nor  can  the  permissive  discretion  given  him  be  employed  to 
fasten  upon  the  Government  an  approval  of  his  enlarged  poUcy. 
Even  if  his  poHcy  was  right  it  was  not  the  Government  poUcy  ; 
and  though  the  Government  now  appear  to  be  adopting  it  more 
or  less  consciously,  you  must  allow  me  still  to  believe  it  a  bad 


February  1885. — Great  excitement  throughout  the  country 
and  clamour  for  a  forward  poUcy,  the  Press  almost  unanimously 
pushing  the  Government  deeper  into  the  Sudan.  Leonard  at 
Torpoint  and  Mr.  Morley  at  Glasgow  almost  alone  raise  their 
voices  against  any  further  bloodshed. 

Their  protests  seemed  to  be  in  vain  ;  for  on  the  day  after 
the  newspapers  announced  the  fate  of  Gordon,  the  Cabinet 
instructed  Lord  Wolseley  to  overthrow  the  Mahdi's  power 
at  Khartum.  Yet  even  in  those  weeks  of  tense  excitement 
there  was  more  opposition  than  was  revealed  in  the  press. 

M  THE  SUDAN  223 

From  Frederic  Harrison 

February  14. — I  cannot  doubt  that  after  your  most  cogent 
speeches  which  have  seriously  stemmed  the  war  fever,  you  will 
go  on  to  organise  opinion  in  that  sense.  If  you  and  Morley  stir 
yourselves  and  use  all  that  is  open  to  you,  you  may  form  a 
powerful  party  and  ultimately  modify  the  policy  of  the  Ministry. 
I  presume  you  are  already  working  to  get  round  you  members 
who  will  support  you.  I  see  that  L.  Stanley,  Hopwood,  Thomas- 
son  have  spoken  distinctly,  and  I  cannot  doubt  that  you  will 
have  above  thirty  to  forty  English  M.P.'s  enabling  you  to  be 
independent  of  W.  Lawson,  Labby  and  Irish.  But  what  I 
want  to  press  on  you  is  not  to  despair  of  the  opinion  of  the 
electors  even  in  London,  and  to  go  straight  to  the  country.  No 
possible  opposition  can  be  constructed  inside  the  House  with 
this  rotten  end  of  a  Parliament.  If  Gladstone  could  be  got  to 
go  straight  to  the  people,  over  the  heads  of  the  party  and  official 
world,  he  could  do  what  he  liked.  Three  speeches  from  him  in 
Lancashire,  Midlothian  and  the  Midlands  would  even  now  destroy 
the  war  party  altogether,  though  it  might  possibly  break  up 
his  Cabinet.  I  congratulate  you  on  your  own  splendid  oppor- 
tunity. Your  good  genius  has  come  down  ex  machina  just 
when  you  most  needed  it.  I  was  sorry  you  left  the  Ministry, 
for  you  know  what  I  think  about  P.  R.  But  now  that  is  dead 
and  buried  here  comes  as  fine  a  chance  as  ever  came  to  a  public 
man  in  sore  need  at  the  nick  of  time.  And  if  you  and  Morley 
now  use  your  chances,  and  can  shake  yourselves  free  of  that 
House  of  Commons  fog  which  blinds  Gladstone,  you  wiU  soon 
be  on  even  terms  with  Dilke  and  Chamberlain. 

Another  old  comrade  sent  an  encouraging  message  from 
the  Riviera. 

From  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson 

February  15. — I  cannot  help  sending  you  one  Une  of  en- 
couragement in  the  splendid  fight  which  you  and  John  Morley 
— almost  alone — are  making  against  the  madness  of  the  British 
nation  and  its  rulers.  I  read  with  the  warmest  admiration  and 
approbation  your  speech  which  is  reported  in  last  Friday's 
Times.  The  most  encouraging  thing  was  that  apparently  the 
people  agreed  with  your  view  of  the  matter.  I  suppose  that 
three  years  of  Liberal  massacres  are  beginning  to  tell  at  last 
on  the  electorate,  the  same  as  Disraeli's  five  years  of  glory  and 
gunpowder  at  last  caused  a  reaction.     You  are  luckier  than  I 

224  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

was  when  I  attempted  to  stump  the  country  against  Gladstone's 
invasion  of  Egypt  in  1882,  for  not  only  was  I  then  absolutely 
alone,  but  the  Liberal  jingoes  generally  continued  to  make  a 
disturbance  at  the  meetings  and  prevent  a  fair  statement  of 
the  case. 

When    Parliament    reassembled    on    February    19    the 
Conservatives  naturally  moved  a  vote  of  censure  on  the 
Government  for  their  failure  to  relieve  Gordon,  and  were 
supported  by  Goschen  and  Forster.     The  defence  was  lame 
enough,  for  all  the  world  was  aware  that  the  delay  was  in 
part  the  result  of  divided  counsels.     Moreover,  the  Govern- 
ment spokesmen,  deeming  it  unchivahrous  to  tell  all  they 
knew,  and  all  that  was  to  be  revealed  long  afterwards  by 
Lord  Cromer,  of  Gordon's  unfitness  for  his  delicate  task, 
offered  an  easy  target  for  the  shafts  of  the  Opposition. 
The  discomfort  of  Ministers  was  increased  by  the  fact  that 
while  the  Conservatives  attacked  them  for  having  done  too 
little,  a  body  of  their  own  Radical  supporters  blamed  them 
for  being  about  to  do  too  much.     An  amendment  to  the 
Vote  of  Censure  was  moved  by  John  Morley  regretting  "  the 
decision  of  the  Government  to  employ  the  forces  of  the 
Crown  for  the  overthrow  of  the  power  of  the  Mahdi  "  ;   and 
on  the  fourth  and  final  day  of  the  great  debate  Courtney 
delivered  an  impassioned  oration  in  its  support.     Reviewing 
the  divergent  explanations  and  confessions  of  Ministers  he 
fixed  on  the  avowal  of  Lord  Derby,  the  Colonial  Secretary, 
that  he  now  regarded  our  first  intervention  as  a  mistake. 
A  second  decision  had  now  to  be  made — should  we  smash 
the  Mahdi  at  Khartum  ?     The  Government  declared  that 
we  must ;    and  yet  not  a  single  Minister  desired  to  remain 
in,  still  less  to  annex,  the  Sudan.     When  the  news  of  Gordon's 
death  arrived  the  Cabinet  determined  to  fight,  thinking 
that  no  Government  could  live  unless  it  did  so.     If,  however, 
we  succeeded  in  smashing  the  Mahdi,  what  should  we  do 
with  the  Sudan  ?     Set  up  princelets  who  would  need  our 
constant  support  ?     We  must  either  withdraw  or  undertake 
to  govern  the  country.     "  The  issue  before  the  nation  rests 
on  the  decision  of  one  man.     At  a  whisper  from  him,  a 
change  of  tone,  a  single  utterance,  it  would  rise  to  condemn 

XI  THE  SUDAN  225 

that  in  which  it  now  silently  acquiesced.  If  this  crowning 
responsibility  is  fuUy  recognised,  it  may  induce  a  half- 
reluctant  Minister  to  do  what  only  a  great  Minister  can — 
retrace  his  steps  and  to  undo  the  mischief  which  he  has 
unwittingly  carried  forward."  The  peroration  was  heard 
in  hushed  silence,  and  all  witnesses  agree  that  Gladstone 
was  visibly  affected. 


February  26. — I  hear  his  speech,  the  most  powerful  I  ever 
heard  from  him.  It  makes  a  marked  impression  on  the  House, 
and  the  Prime  Minister  listens  with  undisguised  sympathy, 
and  I  think  with  some  wincing  at  the  close. 

The  verdict  of  the  Ladies*  Gallery  is  confirmed  by  an 
experienced  observer  on  the  Irish  Benches.  "  As  the 
evening  advanced,"  wrote  Mr.  T.  P.  O'Connor,^  "  the  face 
of  the  Prime  Mmister  began  to  be  overclouded,  and  he 
looked  especially  anxious  while  the  speech  of  Mr.  Courtney 
was  being  dehvered.  The  speech  was  one  that  might  well 
make  him  uncomfortable.  It  was  far  and  away  the  most 
damaging  attack  that  has  yet  been  made  upon  the  Govern- 
ment, and  was  the  first  real  exposition  of  the  views  of  the 
Peace  party.  To  judge  by  their  applause,  although  it  was 
low  and  timorous,  the  greater  number  of  the  Liberals  agreed 
with  the  destructive  criticism  which  he  passed  upon  the 
pohcy  of  the  Government,  and  nobody  doubted  that  when 
he  sat  down  he  had  made  it  harder  than  ever  for  any  Liberal 
to  vote  for  the  plans  of  the  Government."  With  the  Front 
Benches  united  on  a  forward  policy,  it  was  no  small  triumph 
for  the  Peace  party  that  74  British  and  40  Irish  Members 
followed  the  two  dissentient  Radicals  into  the  Division 

There  was  a  good  deal  of  heart-burning  in  Cornwall  over 
the  new  mutiny ;  and  the  editor  of  the  Plymouth  Mercury 
reinforced  his  pubhc  rebukes  by  private  exhortations,  to 
which  Courtney  sent  a  brief  and  characteristic  reply. 

Gladstone's  House  of  Commons,  p.  499. 


226  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

To  Mr.  Latimer 

March  15. — I  am  well  aware  of  the  immense  power  of  the 
Prime  Minister  and  of  the  risks  I  run  in  even  appearing  to  differ 
from  him  ;  but  there  are  political  issues  so  grave  that  they 
must  be  judged  on  their  own  merits,  and  our  future  must  be 
full  of  danger  if  newspapers  do  not  help  men  to  think  a  Uttle 
for  themselves  even  in  the  presence  of  the  greatest  names. 
For  myself  I  think  I  shall  be  found  incurably  addicted  to  the 
Protestant  right  of  private  judgment. 

It  was  natural  that  resentment  should  be  felt  not  only 
in  Cornwall  but  in  Downing  Street. 


Easter. — Large  dinner  at  York  House,^  among  others  Mr. 
Chamberlain.  He  and  L.  pitch  into  each  other  very  frankly, 
to  the  amusement  of  every  one.  Mr,  C.  warns  L.  that  if  he 
turns  the  Government  out  he  will  never  get  another  seat  for  a 
Liberal  constituency. 

Threats  only  stiffened  Courtney's  resolution.  His  wis- 
dom, moreover,  was  vindicated  early  in  April  by  the  Cabinet's 
decision  to  abandon  the  Sudan  squth  of  Wady  Haifa  ;  for 
Wolseley  had  pointed  out  the  magnitude  of  the  task  of 
reconquest,  and  Sir  Evelyn  Baring  advised  against  a  further 
advance.  A  scarcely  less  important  factor  in  the  decision 
was  the  news  which  reached  London  on  April  8  of  a  sudden 
and  unprovoked  Russian  attack  on  Penjdeh,  on  the  Afghan 
frontier.  "  Mr.  Gladstone  made  a  speech  to-night,"  wrote 
Mr.  T.  P.  O'Connor  ^  on  April  21,  "  which  everybody  is 
saying  means  war.  In  the  first  place  he  had  to  announce 
the  abandonment  of  the  expedition  to  Khartum,  and  the 
Radicals,  like  Mr.  Morley  and  Mr.  Courtney,  who  have  so 
vigorously  opposed  that  wild  and  imbecile  scheme,  at  once 
burst  into  a  cheer.  Then  came  the  ominous  announcement 
that  the  meaning  of  this  abandonment  was  to  have  the 
troops  in  the  Sudan  as  well  as  all  the  other  resources  of 

^  Mr.  Potter's  house  in  Kensington. 
*  Gladstone's  House  of  Commons,  p.  525. 

XI  THE  SUDAN  227 

the  Empire  available  for  service  wherever  they  may  be 
required."  But  after  obtaining  a  vote  of  credit  from  a 
unanimous  House  of  Commons,  Gladstone  persuaded  Russia 
to  refer  to  the  arbitration  of  the  King  of  Denmark  the 
incidents  of  the  Penjdeh  attack.  Courtney  had  never  lost 
confidence  in  the  Prime  Minister's  good  intentions,  and 
attributed  what  he  regarded  as  his  errors  to  mahgn  fortune. 
"  Mr.  Gladstone's  ambition,"  he  declared  to  his  constituents, 
"  is  to  live  at  peace  with  all  the  world,  respecting  the  rights 
of  every  country,.great  or  small,  infringing  on  the  territory  of 
none,  anxious  to  use  the  influence  of  England  in  bringing 
about  liberty  throughout  the  world,  but  never  imder  the 
pretence  of  hberty  carrying  anywhere  the  flame  of  war. 
It  is  a  grievous  fact,  lamented  by  none  more  than  by  Mr. 
Gladstone  himself,  that  he  has  been  obliged  to  devote  so 
much  time  to  foreign  affairs  ;  but  the  difficulties  have  been 

On  June  8  the  Liberal  Government  was  defeated  on  the 
Beer  duties,  and  Lord  SaUsbury  took  command  with  Lord 
Randolph  Churchill  as  Chief  of  the  Staff.  Courtney  shed 
no  tears  over  the  fall  of  a  Ministry  with  which  he  had  had 
such  serious  differences  ;  and  his  six  months'  wanderings 
in  the  wilderness  had  encouraged  his  natural  tendency  to 
independence.  The  new  Premier  was  as  pacific  as  his 
predecessor,  and  in  the  eyes  of  the  Philosophic  Radical 
Lord  Randolph's  Tory  Democracy  was  as  heretical  as 
Chamberlain's  Unauthorised  Programme.  During  the  few 
remaining  weeks  of  the  session  the  new  Government  did 
Kttle  but  mark  time  ;  but  a  Bill  to  remove  electoral  dis- 
quaUfication  by  medical  relief  aroused  the  ire  of  the  few 
individualists  left  in  the  ranks  of  the  great  parties. 


July  21. — A  Medical  Relief  Bill  is  brought  in,  going  far 
beyond  what  Mr.  Jesse  Ceilings  himself  would  have  ventured 
to  propose.  Leonard  and  a  few — including  our  honest  Con- 
servative Mr.  Pell — fought  it  tooth  and  nail,  but  found  few  to 
go  with  them,  though  the  majority  of  the  Liberal  Government 
and  the  Conservatives  had  pledged  themselves  to  the  old  principle 

228  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

that  all  poor  relief  was  to  cut  off  the  vote.  But  Mr.  Chamberlain 
and  his  friends  having  raised  it  as  an  election  cry,  the  two  parties 
vie  with  each  other  as  to  who  shall  be  most  eager  to  meet  the 
probable  popular  feeHng.     L.  made  a  very  fine  speech. 

Courtney's  Spartan  soul  revolted  at  a  proposal  in  which 
he  detected  a  "  thoughtless  levity  "  now  rapidly  gaining 
ground  in  both  political  camps  ;  and  with  sublime  disregard 
of  the  approaching  election  he  placed  on  the  paper  a  resolu- 
tion disapproving  a  measure  "  which  removes  an  incentive 
to  independence  and  fundamentally  changes  the  principle 
under  which  pauperism  has  steadily  diminished  since 
1834."  The  receiver  of  alms,  he  argued,  he  who  cannot 
support  himself,  was  unfree,  and  therefore  should  not  vote. 
It  was  said  that  only  60,000  would  be  affected  ;  but  the 
number  would  grow.  The  gift  would  injuriously  affect  the 
character  of  the  working-classes  and  would  increase  pauper- 
ism, as  it  had  been  increased  by  the  Old  Poor  Law.  "  All 
efforts  to  raise  their  position  wiU  be  Valueless  if  they  are 
not  encouraged  to  be  independent  and  prudent.  Only  by 
giving  them  prudence  to  look  before  and  after  can  we  ever 
cure  the  nation  of  the  curse  of  pauperism.  The  people  at 
large  will  be  degraded  by  the  Bill,  which  will  arrest  the 
beneficent  tendencies  that  have  been  in  operation  for  the 
last  thirty  years."  At  these  words  Jesse  CoUings  cried  out 
"  Cruelty."  "  To  make  the  people  feel  the  consequences  of 
their  own  acts,"  retorted  the  speaker,  "  to  prevent  them 
indulging  in  vice  and  pursuing  improvidence,  is  not  cruelty. 
If  we  would  raise  the  people  we  must  tell  them  that  their 
position  in  the  world  depends  on  prudence."  ^ 

The  austere  gospel  of  self-help  contained  an  element  of 
fortifying  truth  ;  but  it  had  been  so  often  employed  by 
selfish  men  to  delay  reforms  and  to  palhate  abuses  that  it 
was  ultimately  displaced  by  the  rival  theory  of  a  minimum 
standard  of  life,  to  be  attained  by  the  active  co-operation  of 
the  State.     It  was  for  the  latter  doctrine  that  Chamberlain 

^  "I  do  not  care  so  much  for  Courtney's  own  disapproval,"  wrote 
Henry  Sidgwick,  who  heard  the  speech,  "  as  his  poUtical  economy  makes 
it  inevitable  ;  but  I  am  afraid  he  is  right  in  saying  that  practical  philan- 
thropists are  against  it."     Sidgwick' s  Life,  p.  418. 

XI  THE  SUDAN  229 

had  resolved  to  capture  the  Liberal  party  ;  and  his  control 
of  the  machinery  filled  with  apprehension  the  adherents  of 
the  older  faith,  who  were  denounced  by  the  Birmingham 
captain  as  a  set  of  poHtical  Rip  Van  Winkles. 


July  22. — The  day  after  L.'s  speech  on  the  Medical  Relief 
Bill  I  had  arranged  a  picnic  to  Burnliam  Beeches.  Mr.  Chamber- 
lain talked  a  good  deal  and  very  frankly  about  politics ;  but  his 
tone  was  detestable  and  made  me  feel  that  if  he  becomes  as  he 
threatens  to  be  the  dominant  power  in  the  Liberal  party,  we 
shall  have  no  such  thing  as  real  freedom  in  political  life.  It 
will  all  become  an  organised  petty  tyranny.  Every  politician 
however  honest  who  does  not  conform  exactly  to  the  will  of 
the  majority  of  the  party  (and  that  wire-pulled  to  an  extent 
only  known  to  a  few)  will  be  cut  off  and  denounced.  The  day 
will  come  when  such  Liberals  as  Leonard  must  fight  this  regime. 
Meanwhile  organisation  is  going  on  apace  with  the  Birmingham 
party,  while  the  free  are  doing  nothing  except  keep  their  reputa- 
tions undamaged  by  any  intriguing  or  sacrifice  of  principle  to 
election  advantages.  For  some  time  I  have  thought  that  the 
independent  and  non-demagogic  Liberals  should  also  make 
themselves  heard  and  insist  on  Lord  Hartington  coming  more 
to  the  front. 

Courtney's  impenitent  individualism  found  utterance 
about  the  same  time  in  a  four-column  review  in  the  Times 
of  the  Inaugural  Lecture  of  his  friend  Professor  Marshall  at 
Cambridge.  Fifty  years  ago,  he  begins.  Political  Economy 
was  filled  with  self-confidence,  while  its  enemies,  like  Southey, 
were  sad  and  sometimes  almost  hopeless.  To-day  economists 
were  not  so  sure  of  their  footing,  while  their  enemies  dis- 
played the  insolence  of  victory.  How  far  was  this  loss  of 
authority  the  fault  of  its  founders  ?  In  admitting  their 
shortcomings  the  Professor  had  been  too  apologetic.  It 
was  contended  that  they  lacked  the  faith  of  the  modems 
in  the  possibility  of  a  vast  improvement  in  the  condition 
of  the  workers.  It  was  true  that  they  had  not  the  philan- 
thropic spirit  of  to-day  ;  but  they  were  essentially  humane 
men.  They  beheved  in  the  possibihty  of  a  vast  improve- 
ment, but  thought  it  would  come  very  slowly  and  only 

230  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

through  the  raising  of  the  popular  standard  of  social  moraUty. 
"  In  a  generation  of  political  enfranchisement  it  is  inevitable 
that  cries  for  a  swifter  reformation  of  social  evils  should 
arise."  Malthus  would  have  agreed  with  Louise  Michel, 
La  PMlanthropie,  c'est  un  mensonge.  Henry  George  was 
not  the  first  and  would  not  be  the  last  to  beUeve  that  he 
had  detected  and  could  stanch  the  primary  source  of  human 
misery.  The  older  econoniists  were  not  infaUible  ;  but  the 
investigations  of  the  latest  thinkers  left  their  great  results 

The  summer  of  1885  was  a  period  of  drift  and  unsettle- 
ment.  Lord  Salisbury  was  in  office  but  not  in  power,  and 
nobody  could  forecast  the  issues  or  foretell  the  result  of  the 
autumn  election. 

To  John  Scott 

August  6. — ^As  to  politics  we  are  very  much  at  sixes  and 
sevens.  It  seems  doubtful  whether  Gladstone  will  ever  come 
back  to  public  life.  Hartington  is  hanging  back,  doing  nothing 
in  a  large  measure  because  he  waits  upon  Gladstone — a  con- 
sideration which  does  not  hamper  Chamberlain,  who  goes  about 
the  country  proclaiming  the  strongest  programme.  It  is  a 
question  whether  he  wiU  not  cause  such  defection  as  to  endanger 
the  Liberal  majority  at  the  General  Election.  Then  a  dismal 
scandal  has  happened  about  Dilke.  As  to  myself  my  position 
in  the  House  is  certainly  not  worse — perhaps  better — at  the 
end  of  the  session ;  but  I  shall  have  trouble  in  fighting  East 
Cornwall.  I  don't  go  far  enough  for  some,  especially  the  tee- 
totallers, and  I  am  suspected  of  not  swallowing  as  gospel  every- 
thing Gladstone  says.  My  opposition  to  the  Medical  ReUef 
Bill  is  also  a  rock  of  offence. 

Before  leaving  London  at  the  end  of  the  session  Courtney 
and  his  wife  visited  Mr.  Morley  and  found  him  "  leaning 
more  to  L.  and  less  to  Mr.  Chamberlain  than  he  did.  But 
with  whom  he  wiU  eventually  side  when  the  fight  comes, 
as  I  think  it  will,  it  is  difficult  to  say."  "  The  fight  "  was 
to  come  ;  but  the  struggle  that  had  already  begun  between 
Birmingham  Radicals  and  Hartingtonian  Moderates  was 
soon  to  be  eclipsed  in  a  fiercer  struggle,  in  which  Chamber- 
lain,  Hartington  and  Courtney  were  to  find  themselves 

XI  THE  SUDAN  231 

standing  shoulder  to  shoulder  against  Gladstone  and  Morley. 
But  these  thunderclouds  were  still  far  away ;  and  the 
member  for  Liskeard  spent  part  of  his  holidays  in  a  yachting 
cruise  to  the  north  of  Scotland  and  Norway.  He  landed 
in  Liverpool  on  September  16,  his  mind  full  of  the  coming 
General  Election ;  and  two  days  later  he  read  Gladstone's 
manifesto  in  the  papers. 


Leonard  relieved  and  more  than  satisfied.  It  expressed  his 
views  almost  identically,  including  a  confession  of  error  in 
Egypt  and  the  Sudan,  and  will  undoubtedly  help  him  in  fighting 
S.E.  Cornwall.  It  is  rather  against  Free  Education  and  Dis- 
establishment for  the  present,  though  seeing  that  things  are 
tending  that  way,  and  for  freeing  land  and  simplifying  transfer 
before  trying  any  experiments  in  Mr.  Chamberlain's  direction. 

The  merging  of  the  borough  of  Liskeard  in  the  con- 
stituency of  East  Cornwall  necessitated  the  delivery  of  a 
large  number  of  electioneering  speeches.  The  candidate's 
principal  themes  were  Imperialism,  Socialism,  Free  Trade 
and  Home  Rule.  In  regard  to  the  first  he  defended  his 
opposition  to  further  bloodshed  in  the  Sudan  after  the 
death  of  Gordon ;  and  his  comrade  in  the  fight,  John 
Morley,  came  to  Bodmin  to  claim  a  share  in  the  merit.  A 
campaign  in  Burma  was  now  threatened  ;  but  there  was  no 
justification  for  any  war  to  enforce  the  contracts  of  British 
traders.  Scarcely  less  detestable  than  Imperialism  was 
Socialism.  "  The  Liberal  party  has  no  socialistic  views. 
In  Mr.  Gladstone's  programme  you  will  find  plenty  of  work, 
but  never  a  trace  of  socialism."  The  greatest  task  awaiting 
the  party  was  the  establishment  of  county  self-govern- 
ment which  would  "  sweep  away  the  last  refuge  of  clan 
supremacy."  Free  Education,  which  was  being  proclaimed 
by  Chamberlain,  might  weaken  the  sense  of  responsibility 
and  self-sacrifice,  and,  like  Gladstone,  he  could  only  promise 
to  examine  a  proposal  which  he  frankly  dishked.  This 
pronoimcement  provoked  a  rebuke  which  inflicted  moment- 
ary pain. 

232  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

From  John  Morley 

November  6. — I  have  read  your  speech  of  last  night  with  a 
feeling  that  I  hardly  expected  to  have  stirred  by  any  speech 
of  yours.  Surely  you  could  have  stated  the  objections  to  free 
schools  without  making  a  direct  attack  on  Chamberlain,  and 
the  more  especially  as  you  admit  that  you  have  not  yet  made 
up  your  mind.  The  appeal  to  the  old  Birmingham  League  and 
to  the  Nonconformists  is  hardly  worthy  of  you,  considering  that 
you  have  had  no  sort  of  sympathy  with  either.  You  wiU  have 
as  assuredly  to  go  back  from  your  present  position  about  free 
schools  as  you  have  had  to  go  back  from  your  old  position  about 
county  franchise.  But  you  might  have  done  this  without 
making  union  and  co-operation  with  your  friends  impossible. 
Excuse  me  for  speaking  frankly,  but  it  comes  to  nothing  less 
than  that.  If  you  had  had  a  firm  opinion  it  might  have  been 
different.  I  have  tried  pretty  hard  to  make  an  eirenicon 
between  you  and  the  Radicals,  but  I  must  give  it  up  as  a  bad 
job,  and  henceforth  you  and  Jesse  CoUings  may  fight  it  out 
between  you.    You  will  be  worsted. 

To  John  Morley 

November  8,  1885,  Penzance. — Your  note  was  but  a  sorry 
greeting  to  me  yesterday  when  we  came  here  for  two  days' 
rest.  My  view  on  Free  Education  is  this.  My  judgment  is 
entirely  against  it  except  on  the  ground  of  the  cost  and  trouble 
of  collecting  fees.  But  the  question  is  an  open  one  ;  and  when 
Harcourt,  MundeUa,  Lefevre  and  others  are  rushing  to  Chamber- 
lain's side  it  must  be  permissible  to  state  the  engagements  on 
the  other  side.  Twice  only  have  I  put  the  subject  in  my  speeches. 
On  each  occasion  I  found  a  prepossession  in  favour  of  what 
Chamberlain  had  proposed,  and  on  each  occasion  I  influenced  if 
I  did  not  sway  the  judgment  of  the  majority.  Then  are  my  argu- 
ments fair  ?  You  complain  of  the  reference  to  the  League ;  but  it 
was  necessary  to  bring  out  the  point.  Unless  Chamberlain  is  to  be 
above  criticism  utterances  such  as  mine  must  be  tolerated  if  the 
people  are  to  be  led  to  judge  the  issue.  I  am  afraid  he  and  Dilke 
have  tried  some  of  us  very  hard  of  late.  It  would  be  miserable 
if  any  feeHng  arose  between  us,  and  indeed  this  must  not  be.  I 
foresee  the  possibiHty  or  probabihty  that  I  shall  be  an  outsider. 
If  Goschen  is  to  be  taboo  why  may  not  I  meet  the  same  fate  ? 
But  though  your  pains  may  thus  appear  to  be  thrown  away, 
please  forgive  what  may  appear  to  be  waywardness.  Even  a 
prosel5^e  of  the  gate  is  not  an  enemy.  Ever  yours  whatever  comes. 

XI  THE  SUDAN  .  233 

A  third  danger  against  which  the  candidate  raised  a 
wamiiig  voice  was  Fair  Trade,  which  he  met  by  the  doctrine 
that  the  welfare  of  the  community  must  outweigh  the 
interests  of  a  locality  or  a  trade. 


The  Conservative  candidate  had  been  at  St.  Cleer  a  few 
days  previously  and  had  told  the  miners  that  protective  duties 
would  restore  their  prosperity.  Our  local  friends  urged  L.  to 
counter  this  by  promising  at  any  rate  the  abolition  of  royalties. 
I  can  still  see  the  slightly  scornful  smile  with  which  he  received 
this  advice  ;  but  he  said  nothing  and  we  went  into  the  meeting. 
He  began  at  once,  "  You  have  been  told  that  a  heavy  duty  on 
Australian  and  foreign  copper  and  tin  would  reopen  your  mines 
and  give  you  all  employment  and  enable  the  men  who  have 
gone  abroad  to  return.  (Breathless  silence.)  It  is  quite  true. 
But  it  would  do  something  else."  And  then  he  described  how 
this  country  had  a  great  industry  in  the  manufacture  of  tin 
goods  for  the  whole  world,  and  added  "  the  duty  you  have  been 
offered  would  throw  thousands  out  of  work  elsewhere  while 
it  would  put  hundreds  into  work  here.  Knowing  that,  I  should 
be  ashamed  of  my  fellow-countrymen  if  they  desired  or  would 
accept  it."  The  whole  place  cheered  wildly,  and  I  felt  very 
proud  of  my  candidate  and  his  poor  constituents. 

A  still  more  threatening  danger  was  the  demand  for 
Home  Rule,  which  at  least  85  PameUites  would  probably 
be  returned  to  support.  "  There  is  a  deep  conviction  in 
my  mind,"  he  declared  at  Liskeard,  "  that  Ireland  wiU 
interfere  with  some  of  the  plans  of  the  next  Parhament. 
Its  first  great  business  will  be  to  answer  the  question.  Shall 
the  Uriion  be  maintained  ?  "  The  Government  had  dropped 
coercion  and  were  toying  with  Home  Rule.  "  I  hope 
there  are  hmits  to  the  subserviency  of  the  Conservative 
party  to  its  master-spirits,"  ran  his  Election  Address,  "  but 
the  experience  of  recent  months  must  have  convinced  all 
men  that  the  only  safeguard  of  the  Union  is  the  return  to 
power  of  a  Liberal  Government  strong  enough  to  withstand 
all  combinations,  and  no  less  resolutely  bent  on  developing 
the  loccil  liberties  of  Ireland  than  on  the  maintenance  of  the 
Legislative  Union." 

234  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap,  xi 

The  candidate  spoke  to  S5anpathetic  audiences  on 
Imperialism,  Free  Trade  and  Home  Rule  ;  but  his  austere 
individuaUsm  was  less  to  their  taste,  and  his  action  on  the 
Medical  Relief  Bill  was  widely  resented.  ^  He  solaced 
himself  with  the  newly  published  biography  of  Fawcett,  as 
stout  an  individuahst  as  himself. 

To  Leslie  Stephen 

December  i8. — Your  Life  of  Fawcett  reached  me  in  the  midst 
of  my  campaign.  It  arrived  at  a  most  opportune  hour.  One 
of  my  difficulties  was  the  opposition  I  had  given  to  the  Medical 
Relief  Bill,  and  I  was  about  to  speak  on  this  subject  among  others 
on  the  evening  of  the  day  when  the  book  came.  Naturally  I 
turned  to  the  book,  and  in  the  exposition  of  Fawcett's  views 
and  principles  touching  the  redemption  of  the  labouring  poor 
from  the  servitude  they  suffer  I  found  my  best  defence.  Now 
we  have  lost  the  man  there  could  not  be  a  better  work  than 
that  you  have  done  so  well  of  keeping  fresh  his  character  in 
the  memory  of  those  who  knew  him,  and  of  making  it  familiar 
to  other  contemporaries  and  to  those  that  shall  come  after. 
We  are  so  infested  with  quacks,  often  sincere,  that  I  am  some- 
times inclined  to  despair.  I  feel  Fawcett's  loss  continually. 
If  Caimes  and  he  were  aUve  now ! 

To  restore  the  balance  a  certificate  of  merit  was  obtained 
from  Hawarden. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

I  deeply  regretted  on  more  grounds  than  one  Mr.  Courtney's 
resignation  of  his  important  office  in  the  late  Government,  in 
which  his  services  were  of  high  value  to  the  country.  But  I 
was  and  am  sure  that  he  did  not  by  his  loyalty  to  his  conscience 
intend  any  disloyalty  to  his  party. 

Despite  his  differences  with  Gladstone  and  Chamberlain, 
Courtney  was  returned  for  East  Cornwall  by  the  substantial 
majority  of  1153. 

^  Jesse  Collings  had  taken  the  unusual  course  of  writing  a  denunciation 
of  Courtney  in  the  Cornish  papers  ;  but  during  the  Election  the  warm- 
hearted man,  seized  with  remorse,  arrived  uninvited  at  a  village  meeting 
to  support  his  candidature. 



The  result  of  the  elections  was  no  surprise  to  Courtney, 
who  had  anticipated  an  overwhelming  victory  for  Home  Rule 
candidates  in  Ireland.  With  his  usual  habit  of  looking 
behind  the  representatives  to  the  electors,  he  pointed  out 
that  while  only  half  of  those  entitled  to  vote  and  two-thirds 
of  those  who  actually  voted  supported  Nationahsts,  five- 
sixths  of  the  Members  returned  were  NationaUsts.  But  the 
careless  public  saw  nothing  except  the  eighty-six  Home 
Rulers,  and  spoke  of  the  voice  of  five-sixths  of  the  people. 
The  Irish  Liberals,  Catholic  and  Protestant,  were  left  without 
representation,  and  the  island  was  delivered  over  to  the 
PameUites  and  the  Orangemen.  When  the  turmoil  was 
over  he  wrote  to  thank  Gladstone  for  his  aid  and  added  a 
warning  against  Home  Rule,  with  which  the  Liberal  leader 
was  reported  to  be  coquetting. 

To  W.  E.  Gladstone 

December  7. — The  last  member  for  Cornwall  has  been  elected, 
and  the  county  returns  seven  Liberals  to  support  you  and  no 
one  to  oppose.  Now  that  our  triumph  is  complete  I  hope  you 
will  forgive  me  if  I  send  a  word  of  thanks  for  the  most  valuable 
letter  you  wrote  on  my  behalf  on  the  eve  of  our  poll.  What  it 
said  must  at  all  times  have  been  most  agreeable  to  me  to  read, 
and  at  that  juncture  it  was  most  useful.  I  grieve  that  the 
majority  throughout  the  kingdom  has  not  been  more  decisive 
and  that  the  peril  of  which  you  spoke  in  your  first  speech  on 
arriving  at  Edinburgh  cannot  be  said  to  be  wholly  removed. 
The  Government  will  be  bound  to  try  and  work  on,  but  they 
can  scarcely  succeed,  and  some  of  their  more  sober  spirits  must 


236  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

wish  to  be  relieved  of  an  impossible  and  ungrateful  task.  I 
shrink  a  httle  from  speculating  as  to  what  may  follow.  The 
present  temper  of  our  friends  in  the  South-West  is  one  of  bitter 
resentment  at  the  malign  action  of  the  Irish  party  during  the 
election ;  but  apart  from  this,  which  may  perhaps  pass  away, 
there  would  be  great  reluctance  to  any  legislation  that  would 
expose  the  Unionists,  whether  landowners  or  not,  to  scarcely 
veiled  spoliation.  A  hostile  tariff  woiild  be  more  endurable, 
though  that  would  excite  great  irritation.  I  have  long  feared 
that  Ireland  might  have  to  go  through  the  discipHne  of  self-rule 
as  the  only  way  of  arriving  at  better  things  ;  but  the  predominant 
ideas  of  the  leaders  of  the  Irish  party  are  so  unsound  that  re- 
actionary legislation  in  respect  of  trade  and  pauperism  would  too 
probably  reproduce  much  of  the  misery  of  the  past.  But  this 
might  be  suffered  if  only  the  fear  of  injustice  could  be  removed. 
It  is  not  impossible  that  the  Liberal  party  may  find  itself  under 
the  necessity  of  appealing  to  the  country  to  support  a  larger 
measure  of  concession  to  Ireland  than  the  country  is  for  the  time 
prepared  to  approve,  and  may  so  be  placed  for  a  season  in  a 
minority  in  Parliament.  Pray  excuse  my  writing  thus  freely 
to  you  at  this  moment.  I  will  even  venture  to  send  you  two 
articles  which  I  wrote  for  an  American  review  five  years  ago  on 
Ireland  which  I  am  tolerably  certain  you  have  never  seen.  I 
cannot  expect  you  to  read  them  through,  but  there  are  parts 
that  may  interest  you  even  now. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

December  i8. — Your  letter  reached  me  in  due  course,  and  I 
am  very  glad  to  learn  that  mine  was  of  use.  I  hope  not  only 
that  in  these  capricious  times  you  may  keep  your  seat  in  ParUa- 
ment  but  also  that  on  a  proper  opportunity  your  practical 
abihties  may  again  be  enUsted  in  the  service  of  the  Crown  and 
country.  I  have  now  read  your  able  papers ;  but  comparing 
them  with  your  letter  I  am  not  sure  that  they  accord  with  your 
present  views.  Indeed  I  am  not  very  sure  that  I  see  what  those 
views  are  ;  but  I  understand  you  may  mean  that  the  Liberal 
party  may  have  to  take  up  the  advocacy  of  a  large  concession  to 
Ireland  in  the  matter  of  Government,  and  may  have  to  suffer 
a  little  martyrdom  for  it.  From  neither  of  these  propositions 
do  I  dissent.  A  great  thing  has  to  be  done,  the  state  of  Ireland 
permitting.  But  my  first  and  great  desire  is  that  it  should  be 
done  by  the  present  Government.  Only  a  Government  can  do 
it ;  and  a  Tory  Government,  if  endued  with  the  requisite  courage, 
can  do  it  best.    Of  this  I  make  no  secret. 


The  day  before  this  letter  was  written  Herbert  Gladstone 
informed  Wemyss  Reid,  editor  of  the  Leeds  Mercury,  that 
his  father  was  prepared  to  resume  office  and  to  introduce  a 
Home  Rule  Bill ;  and  though  a  telegram  from  Hawarden 
denied  the  accuracy  of  the  statement,  its  cautious  wording 
left  Uttle  doubt  as  to  the  substantial  truth  of  the  momentous 
communication.  Two  days  later  Courtney  repHed  to  his  old 
chief ;  and,  while  making  no  reference  to  the  "  Hawarden 
Kite,"  he  reiterated  his  opposition  to  Home  Rule. 

To  W.  E.  Gladstone 

December  19. — I  am  very  much  gratified  with  your  letter 
and  your  confidences,  and  cannot  too  strongly  express  my  thanks 
for  them.  As  you  intimate  some  uncertainty  about  my  present 
views,  perhaps  you  will  allow  me  briefly  to  explain  them.  I 
still  entertain  to  the  full  my  belief  of  1880  that  Home  Rule  for 
Ireland  would  mean  bad  rule — probably  unjust,  certainly  unwise 
and  tending  to  material  and  social  misery.  But  the  situation 
has  materially  changed.  The  demand  for  self-government  has 
developed  in  Ireland,  and  the  representative  machinery  adopted 
has  given  it  exaggerated  strength  in  the  House  of  Commons. 
Nevertheless,  if  I  could  have  my  own  way  and  could  rely  on 
stability  of  support  from  others,  I  should  still  refuse  Home 
Rule.  I  would  begin  by  curbing  the  means  of  mischief  of  the 
Irish  representatives  at  Westminster,  which  I  look  upon  as  a 
test  of  our  national  resolution  in  this  matter.  I  would  go  on 
to  establish  free  county  government,  I  would  feel  my  way  to 
Provincial  Conferences,  and  I  would  admit  of  Irish  Grand  Com- 
mittees at  Westminster ;  and  simultaneously  with  these  I 
would  exert  all  the  authority  of  the  Empire  to  assure  the  dominion 
of  law  in  Ireland.  But  this  programme  requires  stabihty  of 
purpose  and  steady  maintenance  to  have  any  prospect  of  success, 
and  I  sorrowfully  confess  that  reliance  cannot  be  placed  on  this 
steadiness  either  inside  or  outside  Parliament.  Therefore  I  am 
drawn  to  the  apprehension  I  expressed  in  my  last  letter  that 
Ireland  is  doomed  to  go  through  the  furnace  of  Home  Rule, 
though  I  should  be  very  loath  to  have  anything  to  do  with 
laimching  the  experiment.  I  am  very  glad  to  read  that  you 
think  the  present  Government  should  grapple  with  the  question. 
It  cannot  be  our  burden  till  they  have  proved  their  incapacity, 
and  they  too  may  plead  that  Mr.  Parnell  shall  distinctly  formulate 
his  own  demands.    Frankly  I  do  not  think  any  Government 

238  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

could  undertake  and  finish  the  work  now.  Not  until  after  some 
violent  oscillations  and  probably  more  than  one  dissolution  is 
it  likely  to  be  performed.  Nobody  has  had  such  a  job  since 
the  time  of  Mr.  Pitt,  and  it  is  sad  to  note  the  levity  of  those  who 
talk  and  write  as  if  it  could  be  done  with  a  stroke  of  the  pen  or 
a  phrase  of  the  tongue. 

When  his  wife  read  his  outspoken  attack  on  the  presumed 
policy  of  the  Liberal  leader,  she  exclaimed,  "  Bang  goes  the 
Chancellorship."  His  disapproval  of  the  new  departure 
was  shared  by  not  a  few  prominent  Liberals  who  afterwards 
reluctantly  accepted  Home  Rule,  among  them  his  old  chief 
at  the  Home  Office. 


December  23. — Sir  William  Harcourt  told  Leonard  at  the 
Reform  Club  that  he  had  been  at  a  thanksgiving  meeting  at 
Derby  and  gone  from  there  to  spend  the  Sunday  at  Birmingham 
with  Chamberlain.  "  You  did  not  find  him  in  a  very  thanks- 
giving state  of  mind,  I  imagine,"  said  Leonard.  "  No,  indeed," 
was  the  answer.  "  After  the  first  greeting  it  was  nothing  but 
Damn  !  Damn  !  Damn  !  all  day  long."  "  What  a  pious  Sunday 
you  two  must  have  spent,"  returned  Leonard.  Sir  WiUiam  is 
kt  present  brave  against  Home  Rule.  How  long  this  mood  will 
last  it  would  be  difficult  to  say. 

Unlike  most  of  his  contemporaries,  Courtney  was  not  in 
the  least  surprised  by  the  sudden  emergence  of  Home  Rule 
as  the  dominant  issue  of  British  poHtics.  He  had  foretold 
its  coming,  and  he  had  long  ago  made  up  his  mind  to  oppose 
it.  He  was  the  author  of  the  uncompromising  leader  in  the 
Times  on  July  i,  1874,  on  Isaac  Butt's  celebrated  motion. 
"  In  manner  and  substance  he  was  excellent ;  but  the  argu- 
ment completely  failed  to  convince.  The  advocacy  of  Home 
Rule  is  hopeless.  His  petition  for  an  Irish  Parhament  flows 
from  his  cardinal  error  that  the  inhabitants  of  Ireland  are 
a  separate  nation."  In  his  first  session  he  supported  the 
second  reading  of  Butt's  Land  BiU  to  improve  the  position 
of  Irish  tenants  ;  but  when  a  speaker  described  it  as  a 
measure  of  Home  Rule,  he  rejoined  that  the  more  attention 
the  proposal  received  the  greater  would  be  the  injury  in- 
flicted on  an  agitation  which,  if  successful,  would  bring  an 


immense  amount  of  misery  and  wretchedness  upon  Ireland. 
He  supported  the  Bill  as  the  best  method  of  avoiding  Home 
Rule,  since  it  would  reveal  a  desire  on  the  part  of  Parliament 
to  meet  requirements  and  remove  objections. 

His  views  were  first  explained  in  detail  after  a  visit  in 
1880  in  two  singularly  frank  articles  in  an  American  Review.  ^ 
"  The  government  of  Ireland,"  he  begins,  "  has  once  again 
become  a  subject  of  perplexity  to  the  Parliament  of  the 
United  Kingdom.  It  would  seem  that  the  unrest  and  dis- 
satisfaction of  the  mass  of  the  inhabitants  are  as  great  as 
ever.  Throughout  half  or  more  than  half  of  its  area  meetings 
are  held  week  after  week  to  demand  the  estabhshment  of  an 
independent  legislative  authority,  so  far  at  least  as  regards 
the  domestic  affairs  of  its  people,  and  there  are  no  gatherings 
to  be  set  against  them.  Mr.  Pamell,  though  a  Protestant 
and  a  landowner,  is  now  the  most  popular  man  in  the  country 
because  he  has  been  the  most  persistent  and  effective  enemy 
of  government  by  the  Parliament  of  the  United  Kingdom. 
His  eminence  is  a  demonstration  of  a  feehng  of  alienation 
from  Great  Britain.  Large  masses  of  Irishmen  still  look 
upon  themselves  as  strangers,  if  not  as  enemies,  to  the 

After  thus  recognising  disagreeable  facts  in  language 
which  might  have  formed  the  exordium  to  an  oration  by 
Isaac  Butt,  he  passes  to  a  defence  of  present-day  England. 
The  passionate  hatred  of  the  past  was  only  too  easy  to  under- 
stand, for  we  were  humiliated  by  the  story  of  the  cruelties 
and  the  injustice  enforced  or  supported  by  our  forefathers. 
But  had  we  not  repented  of  all  this  ?  Had  we  not  done  our 
best  to  make  amends  for  the  past  ?  Surely  there  was  a  time 
when  Nature  might  be  allowed  to  cover  the  battlefields  of 
history.  Despite  Glencoe,  Scotchmen  and  EngUshmen  had 
long  since  agreed  to  dwell  together  in  unity.  Catholic 
Emancipation,  Disestablishment,  Reform  of  the  Land 
Laws  had  followed  in  rapid  succession.  By  slow  degrees 
all  inequalities  had  been  removed  in  the  government  of 
Ireland.  Yet  it  seemed  that  all  this  labour  had  been  in  vain. 
For  Conservatives  the  situation  was  comparatively  simple. 

^  The  International. 

240  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

If  Irishmen  were  stUl  irreconcilable,  they  must  be  ovemiled 
like  unreasonable  children.  For  Liberals  such  language 
was  impossible,  for  they  recognised  the  free  vote  of  a  nation 
as  the  supreme  determinant  of  its  destiny.  And  yet  even 
if  the  demand  for  Home  Rule  were  strong,  steady  and  serious, 
the  experiment  of  setting  up  a  local  legislature  could  not  be 
entertained  in  view  of  the  qualifications  of  the  electors  and 
of  those  who  would  probably  be  elected.  "  A  legislature  in 
Dublin  would  develop  many  virtues  now  existing  in  a 
merely  rudimentary  condition  ;  and  Home  Rule  never  comes 
before  my  mind  with  such  plausibility  as  when  I  think  it 
might  perhaps  make  Irish  politicians  grave,  sober  and 
cautious.  A  sense  of  responsibility  would  be  awakened. 
Men  would  feel  that  they  were  being  put  on  their  mettle. 
And  Mr.  Pamell  is  intrinsically  a  reasonable  person."  Yet 
all  evidence  went  to  show  that  the  most  vicious  projects  of 
national  improvement  would  command  assent,  and  that  the 
social  condition  of  Ireland  was  not  sufficiently  healthy  to 
bear  the  strain  of  such  experiments.  No  real  statesman  had 
yielded  to  the  cry,  and  no  Member  of  Parliament  except 
Joseph  Cowen,  a  chartered  libertine,  had  favoured  it.  "  The 
language  of  Liberal  leaders  and  Liberal  followers  has  been 
unequivocal  and  peremptory.  They  have  declared  that 
under  no  circumstances  would  they  consent ;  and  this 
language  undoubtedly  corresponds  to  the  will  of  the  people 
of  Great  Britain.  But  underneath  this  firm  exterior  there 
must  exist  searchings  of  heart  among  some  ;  and  it  cannot 
be  surprising  if  Irishmen  are  found  to  hope  that  the  vehement 
refusal  they  now  encoimter  may  hereafter  be  modified." 

Why  should  not  the  Imperial  Parliament  establish  a 
subordinate  legislature  in  Dublin  if  the  great  majority  of 
the  inhabitants  of  Ireland  seriously  desire  it  ?  In  answering 
this  question  we  must  first  be  sure  that  Home  Rule  is  indeed 
seriously  desired.  Yet  a  very  large  proportion  of  elected 
Home  Rulers  were  halting  advocates  of  the  policy,  and  the 
movement  for  Home  Rule  was  much  feebler  than  O'Connell's 
movement  for  Repeal,  which  collapsed  with  startling 
suddenness.  The  danger  lay  in  the  fact  that  the  Irish  people 
was  ripe  to  receive  and  apply  the  wildest  socialist  dreams. 


"  I  confess  that  I  recoil  from  this  prospect.  Even  though 
the  demand  for  Home  Rule  were  much  more  serious  than  I 
estimate  it,  I  should  fixedly  resist  a  change  threatening  the 
gravest  mischief  to  the  immediate  future  of  Ireland."  All 
the  more  must  the  Imperial  Parhament  deal  with  Land 
reform,  the  one  subject  on  which  Irish  complaints  were 

The  articles  are  of  historical  as  well  as  of  biographical 
interest  as  the  confession  of  a  thoughtful  Liberal  some  years 
before  Home  Rule  became  a  question  of  practical  politics. 
The  author  has  no  fears  for  Ulster,  for  the  Imperial  connec- 
tion or  for  the  Protestant  faith.  His  opposition  arises  solely 
from  his  beUef  that  the  Irish  are  unfit  to  manage  their  own 
affairs.  His  hostility  was  confirmed  by  the  agrarian  and 
other  outrages  of  the  following  years  ;  but  in  the  debates 
and  controversies  which  occupied  and  agitated  the  Parlia- 
ment of  1880  he  could  take  little  part.  He  was  neither  a 
Cabinet  Minister,  entitled  to  a  share  in  the  shaping  of  pohcy, 
nor  a  private  member  at  liberty  to  discuss  it.  He  supported 
a  simultaneous  policy  of  coercion  and  reform  ;  but  he  was 
bitterly  disappointed  that  the  judicial  fixing  of  rents  under 
the  Land  Act  of  1881  was  powerless  to  arrest  the  growth 
of  discontent.  He  constantly  referred  to  Irish  affairs  in 
speeches  to  his  constituents,  one  of  which  brought  a  warm 
eulogy  from  the  well-known  historian  of  Tudor  and  Stuart 

From  Richard  Bagwell 

Clonmel,  February  8,  1883. — I  have  read  your  speech  at 
Liskeard,  and  it  shows  more  real  knowledge  of  Ireland  than 
any  public  man  has  lately  evinced.  So-called  nationaUsm  is 
Janus  Bifrons.  With  one  mouth  it  demands  separation,  with 
the  other  assimilation  to  England.  The  party  of  disorder  is  now 
weak  owing  to  the  disclosures  in  Dublin.  It  is  for  this  very 
reason  that  I  wish  to  urge  the  necessity  of  dealing  with  Irish 
County  Government.  The  Grand  Jury  system  ought  not  to 
stand  a  year  longer.  There  is  a  good  deal  of  ability  and  honesty 
among  Grand  Jurors,  but  the  system  is  past  despair. 

The  suggested  reform  had  to  wait  till  1898,  and  mean- 
while the  energies  of  the  Government  were  monopolised 


243  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

by  the  struggle  with  insurgent  Nationalism.  The  critical 
nature  of  the  situation  was  brought  home  to  him  by  a  visit 
to  DubHn  in  1883. 


November  20, 1883. — Spent  a  week  with  the  George  Trevelyans 
at  the  Chief  Secretary's  Lodge  in  Phoenix  Park.  Both  very 
kind  and  pleasant  to  us,  but  we  found  it  rather  oppressive  Uving 
in  such  a  state  of  siege — odious  for  them  it  must  be.  Soldiers 
and  detectives  guarding  every  step,  even  their  small  boy.  Grand 
dinner  at  the  Viceregal  Lodge  ;  quite  a  little  bit  of  State  cere- 
monial. Lord  and  Lady  Spencer  very  friendly.  I  do  think 
it  is  self-denying  of  them  to  be  there. 

Courtney  would  have  resigned  office  in  1884  had  there 
been  no  Ireland ;  but  his  detestation  of  single-Member 
constituencies  was  intensified  by  his  conviction  that  it  would 
bring  Home  Rule  into  the  foreground  of  pohtics.  "  The 
condition  of  Ireland  is  such  as  to  fill  me  with  anxiety,"  he 
wrote  in  a  prophetic  article  on  Redistribution  in  the  Fort- 
nightly Review  of  January  1885.  "It  is  quiet,  thanks  to 
the  operation  of  a  most  stringent  Crimes  Act ;  but  the 
temper  of  discontent,  not  to  say  ahenation,  breaks  out 
irrepressibly  in  the  greater  part  of  the  island  wherever  there 
is  a  chink  for  its  manifestation.  Into  this  country  it  is 
proposed  to  introduce  a  machinery  of  election  that  wiU 
represent  to  the  kingdom  and  the  world  that  nine-tenths  of 
its  inhabitants  are  passionately  demanding  autonomy,  if 
not  separation.  The  parceUing  out  of  the  island  into  one- 
membered  districts  will  result  in  the  election  of  some  ninety 
Members  claiming  Home  Rule,  while  ten  or  a  dozen  Orange 
Tories  are  found  alone  arrayed  against  them.  We  know 
that  it  wiU  not  truly  represent  the  opinion  of  the  country. 
The  Liberals  of  Ireland,  who  cUng  to  the  unity  of  the  Legis- 
lature, are  not  what  they  were ;  but  they  are  still  in  the 
aggregate  a  large  mass,  although  they  might  fail  to  get  a 
single  voice  to  speak  for  them  in  Parhament.  What  must 
be  the  effect  upon  popular  opinion  in  Ireland  of  the  apparent 
spectacle  of  three  provinces  and  a  large  slice  of  the  fourth 
imanimously  demanding  Home   Rule  ?     And  what  must 


be  the  effect  upon  popular  feeling  in  England  also  ?  We 
may  say  with  truth  that  the  appearance  is  a  gross  mis- 
representation of  the  fact ;  but  it  will  be  a  very  hard  struggle 
to  keep  this  distinction  aUve  in  the  minds  of  the  Enghsh 
people,  especially  if  the  vote  of  a  large  cohort  in  Parhament 
may  make  it  convenient  for  any  party  leader  to  pass  it  by. 
Ireland  in  Parhament  will  be  Ireland  manipulated  and 
divided  so  as  to  exclude  moderation  of  temper  and  judg- 
ment. We  are  going  to  swell  the  clamour  to  which  it  may 
hereafter  be  said  that  we  must  5deld." 

When  Lord  Sahsbury  dissolved  Parhament  in  October 
1885  PameU,  who  had  had  a  secret  interview  with  Lord 
Carnarvon,  the  Lord  Lieutenant,  and  entertained  Hvely 
hopes  of  Lord  Randolph  Churchill,  instructed  Irish 
voters  throughout  Great  Britain  to  support  Conserva- 
tive candidates.  Throughout  the  contest  Courtney's 
imagination  was  haunted  by  the  vision  of  a  Parnellite 
triumph,  followed  by  the  capitulation  of  one  or  other  of 
the  historic  parties. 

To  Edward  O'Brien  {an  Irish  Liberal) 

LooE,  October  18. — Your  letter  has  followed  me  here,  where 
I  am  electioneering.  I  am  much  preoccupied  with  Ireland,  and 
indeed  it  is  always  more  or  less  in  the  background  of  my  thoughts. 
At  present  I  am  nearly  given  over  to  despair.  The  first  thing  to 
be  done  is  to  drive  into  the  heads  of  the  Enghsh  and  Scotch  people 
the  truth  that  though  Pamell  may  get  eighty-five  per  cent  of  Irish 
members  he  has  not  eighty-five  per  cent  of  the  Irish  people.  If 
it  is  once  accepted  that  there  is  such  a  proportion  of  separatists 
in  Ireland,  the  doom  of  the  Union  would  be  certain.  I  should 
therefore  rejoice  very  heartily  if  the  opponents  of  separation 
could  register  themselves  by  voting  even  when  there  is  no  hope 
of  returning  a  candidate ;  but  I  fear  it  will  be  practiccdly  im- 
possible to  stir  up  men  to  vote  in  the  face  of  certain  defeat.  We 
ought  as  soon  as  Parliament  meets  to  press  for  the  adoption  of 
rules  that  would  secure  the  authority  of  the  House  over  the 
PameUites.  They  have  won  their  position  by  their  defiance  of 
Parliament,  and  I  would  give  them  their  first  throw  in  a  wrestle 
over  this  question.  But  even  then  more  must  be  done.  We 
cannot  now  stop  where  we  have  stood.  The  late  Government 
had  apparently  agreed  upon  a  National  Council,  which  seems  to 

244  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

me  open  to  most  of  the  objections  without  some  of  the  advantages 
of  a  National  Parliament.  Lord  Salisbury  looks  almost  wistfully 
at  Federation,  which  he  dismisses  for  the  present.  Mr.  Childers 
surrenders  the  pohce  to  some  kind  of  Home  Rule  organisation, 
and  Lord  Rosebery  wants  Home  Rule  though  he  scarcely  dare 
say  so.     No  wonder  Parnell  is  assured  he  will  win. 

The  result  of  the  election  confirmed  Courtney's  darkest 
anticipations.  After  Gladstone  had  vainly  invited  Lord 
Salisbury  to  deal  with  the  new  situation,  promising  him 
Liberal  support  for  a  generous  measure  of  autonomy,  he 
resolved  to  tackle  it  himself.  He  was  deeply  impressed  by 
the  sweeping  triumph  of  the  Home  Rulers  at  the  first  appeal 
to  the  country  on  a  democratic  franchise,  and  he  was  sick 
of  the  futility  of  coercion.  His  colleagues  and  intimates 
who  knew  that  his  mind  had  been  moving  in  the  direction 
of  Home  Rule  before  the  dissolution  were  prepared  for  the 
announcement  of  a  conversion  which  to  hostile  observers 
appeared  suspiciously  sudden.  The  first  impression  in 
Liberal  circles  was  one  of  bewilderment,  which  was  increased 
by  the  discovery  that  the  trusted  leaders  of  the  party  were 
hopelessly  divided.  Amid  the  welter  of  controversy  and 
suspicion  Courtney  had  at  any  rate  the  satisfaction  of  know- 
ing his  own  mind.  His  path  might  be  painful ;  but  it  was 
perfectly  clear. 

To  Miss  Tod 

December  30. — Those  who  have  carefully  watched  Mr.  Glad- 
stone's utterances  must  have  been  aware  that  his  mind  has  been 
occupied  with  the  possibilities  of  Home  Rule  for  some  years. 
I  am  not  surprised  by  what  has  happened  recently,  but  I  am  not 
the  less  greatly  disquieted.  I  do  not  think  that  Home  Rule 
will  be  at  once  adopted.  If  Mr.  Gladstone  definitely  puts  it 
forward,  it  would  seem  probable  that  the  Liberal  party  will 
lose  such  a  section  in  Parliament  and  still  more  in  the  country 
as  to  be  in  opposition  for  some  years.  Should  this  come  to  pass 
we  should  have  to  fear  that  the  party  would  be  reconstructed 
with  Home  Rule  as  a  leading  item  in  its  programme,  and  that 
sooner  or  later,  and  not  very  late,  the  thing  would  be  conceded 
out  of  mere  weariness  and  England  would  suffer,  but  Ireland 
would  be  nigh  ruined.  None  of  the  checks  that  have  been 
proposed  seem  to  be  of  any  use      I  will  not  say  none  can  be 


devised,  but  I  have  not  seen  any  that  could  be  trusted  if  Ireland 
had  one  Parliament.  Property,  education,  trade,  pauperism, 
the  judicial  bench,  the  police, — under  each  of  these  heads  I  see 
unchecked  danger.  I  should  therefore  simply  resist  as  long  as 
I  could,  although  in  no  sanguine  mood.  I  would  of  course  give 
County  Government  (reserving  the  police)  and  I  would  establish 
at  Westminster  Grand  Committees  for  Irish  business.  Pro- 
vincial assembhes  might  save  you  in  Ulster,  but  would  leave  the 
Liberals  of  Leinster  and  the  South  at  the  mercy  of  the  popular 

The  bitterness  of  the  situation  was  enhanced  for  the 
Unionist  champions  of  Proportional  Representation  by  the 
total  disappearance  of  Irish  Liberalism  which  they  had  so 
clearly  foretold.  From  one  of  these  virtually  disfranchised 
Irish  Liberals  came  a  cry  of  distress. 

From  the  0' Conor  Don 

December  20. — I  think  in  writing  to  you  last  year  I  esti- 
mated that  the  Irish  representation  would  be  about  85  Liberal 
Nationalists  and  the  remainder  almost  exclusively  Orange  Tory. 
I  know  that  some  of  my  friends  here  at  that  time  ridiculed  my 
forecast,  and  I  was  told  that  the  Liberals  in  the  North  would 
not  only  hold  their  own  but  increase  their  strength.  Well,  the 
result  now  is  that  there  is  not  a  single  representative  from  all 
Ireland  calling  himself  a  Liberal,  and  the  Tories  in  the  North 
are  of  the  most  pronounced  Orange  class.  This  is  the  result 
of  the  single-seat  constituencies  without  provision  for  minority 
representation.  No  one  that  knows  anjrthing  about  Ireland  can 
maintain  that  this  is  a  true  representation  of  the  feeHngs  of  the 
country.  One  necessary  consequence  of  the  present  representa- 
tion is  that  every  Catholic  who  wishes  to  have  any  voice  or 
influence  in  the  Legislature  or  government  of  the  country  must 
join  the  Nationalists,  and  it  seems  to  me  that  it  will  be  next  to 
impossible  to  govern  Ireland  constitutionally  against  the  will 
of  86  per  cent  of  the  representatives. 

To  the  0' Conor  Don 

January  2,  1886. — No  doubt  our  worst  anticipations  have 
been  reaUsed  in  the  General  Election,  and  it  is  grievous  that  we 
should  have  piped  to  deaf  ears ;  but  the  practical  question  now 

246  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

is  how  to  prevent  the  mischief  going  further.  I  am  not  disposed, 
whatever  my  fears,  to  give  up  the  battle  as  wholly  lost.  We  are 
now  under  the  temptation  Gladstone  foresaw  and  deprecated  in 
his  first  speech  in  Midlothian  before  re-election.  If  not  abso- 
lutely in  a  minority  we  are  not  in  a  majority  without  the  Irish 
vote,  and  the  attraction  of  that  vote  is  terrible.  It  is  so  easy 
too  to  give  a  pretty  colour  to  abandonment.  If  the  Liberal 
party  is  to  maintain  or  the  bulk  of  its  members  to  assist  in 
maintaining  the  fight  for  the  Union  against  Separation,  they 
will  need  the  assistance  the  Liberals,  especially  the  Catholic 
Liberals  of  Ireland,  can  give  ;  and  they  can  give  much  in  speech 
and  writing  if  not  in  votes.  We  want  moral  strength,  and  you 
can  help  us  to  be  strong.  I  should  Uke  to  see  multipHed  in 
every  form  evidences  of  the  forces  teUing  for  Union  which 
will  not  be  represented  in  the  House  of  Commons.  You  need  to 
be  instant  about  Grand  Jury  Reform.  Would  it  be  possible 
to  add  on  to  County  Government  any  scheme  of  Provincial 
Assemblies  ? 

The  opening  weeks  of  1886  were  filled  with  nimours, 
discussions  and  speculations.  A  few  Liberal  Members  were 
known  to  approve  Home  Rule,  while  Hartington  and  Goschen 
were  known  to  oppose  it ;  but  the  majority  of  the  party 
hesitated  to  commit  themselves,  unable  or  unwilling  to  make 
up  their  minds  on  a  subject  of  infinite  complexity  to  which 
they  had  devoted  but  little  reflection.  Courtney  took  no 
public  action  for  the  present,  and  contented  himself  with 
discussing  plans  for  checkmating  the  enemy. 

To  Lord  Hartington 

January  15. — I  have  reason  to  believe  that  the  Government 
has  had  under  consideration  the  following  of  Lord  Grey's  prece- 
dent in  1833  in  putting  in  the  Speech  from  the  Throne  a  declara- 
tion to  maintain  the  Legislative  Union  between  Great  Britain 
and  Ireland.  O'Connell  had  told  his  followers  that  the  Reformed 
ParUament  would  give  back  to  Ireland  its  Parliament,  and  this 
was  met  by  the  King's  declaration.  O'Connell  was  very  angry 
and  moved  an  amendment  which  was  supported  by  thirty-four 
Irish,  five  English  and  one  Scotch.  If  the  Government  are 
ready  to  challenge  Pamell  they  could  scarcely  do  better  than 
copy  Lord  Grey.  They  might  fall  immediately  afterwards,  but 
they  would  fall  with  dignity  and  they  would  at  least  embarrass 

xn  HOME  RULE  247 

their  opponents.  I  am  more  fully  satisfied  than  ever  that  the 
key  of  the  situation  lies  in  Reform  of  Procedure.  If  the  two 
sides  of  the  House  cannot  lay  aside  party  spirit  enough  to  make 
such  a  reform  as  shall  secure  the  passing  of  legislation  desired 
by  a  great  majority,  the  battle  is  already  lost.  We  must  over- 
come Separatists  in  the  House  if  we  are  to  overcome  Separation 
in  Ireland.  Unless  we  are  resolved  on  this,  and  can  stick  to  our 
resolution  whatever  outrages  follow,  the  prospect  is  hopeless. 

The  new  session  opened  on  January  21.  The  Queen's 
Speech  contained  no  repudiation  of  Home  Rule,  and  the 
debate  on  the  Address  failed  to  provide  the  desired  clarifi- 
cation. Gladstone's  speech  was  non-committal,  Pamell 
cautious  and  reasonable  ;  and  Hartington,  having  no  overt 
challenge  to  meet,  refused  to  make  the  outspoken  declara- 
tion against  Home  Rule  which  his  more  ardent  followers 
demanded.  Mrs.  Courtney,  perhaps  an  even  more  ardent 
Unionist  than  her  husband,  watched  the  debate  from  the 
Ladies'  Gallery,  and  heard  nothing  to  her  taste  till  on 
the  second  day  Mr.  Arthur  Elliot  rose  from  behind  the 
Front  Opposition  Bench  and  entreated  his  leaders  to  lead. 
Hartington,  however,  contented  himself  with  summoning 
Chamberlain  and  a  few  other  friends  to  Devonshire  House 
to  discuss  Procedure.  Before  the  meeting  the  host  confided 
to  Courtney  that  his  difficulty  about  opposing  Home  Rule 
was  that  he  could  not  see  how  the  House  could  go  on 
with  the  Irish  members  in  it,  however  stringent  the  new 
rules  of  Procedure  might  be. 


January  25. — L.  comes  home  to  dinner  and  is  evidently 
making  up  his  mind  to  speak  on  the  Irish  question  when  it 
comes  on  again  a  few  days  hence.  He  gives  me  a  sketch  of 
what  he  would  say, — rather  leading  men  to  consider  the  Home 
Rule  question  in  all  its  bearings  than  attacking  it,  as  he  is  very 
loath  to  put  himself  forward  ostentatiously  against  Mr.  Glad- 
stone. He  hesitates  about  going  back  to  the  House,  but  finally 
goes.  Comes  back  at  1.15  with  astounding  news.  Government 
nearly  defeated  on  amendment  proposing  the  three  F's  in  farm 
tenures.  Lord  Hartington,  Goschen,  Sir  Henry  James,  Leonard 
and  seven  other  Liberals  voting  with  them,  while  all  the  Opposi- 

248  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

tion  and  the  Irish  support  it.  It  is  made  known  that  Mr.  Jesse 
Coilings'  amendment  is  to  be  supported  by  the  whole  strength 
of  the  Opposition.  It  is  understood  that  Mr.  Chamberlain  and 
his  party  thus  give  their  adherence  to  Mr.  Gladstone's  Home 
Rule  policy  in  return  for  his  support  of  their  socialistic  poUcy. 
If  this  comes  about  it  is  an  iniquitous  compact.  The  Govern- 
ment may  be  beaten,  but  Mr.  Gladstone  must  be  discredited 
with  all  honest  pohticians  who  are  not  bhnd  worshippers.  The 
real  issue  is  Home  Rule  ;  but  the  cunning  old  leader,  not  finding 
he  can  successfully  raise  it,  is  going  to  catch  the  votes  of  his 
followers  on  this  and  other  matters  and  then,  I  suppose,  squeeze 
them  gradually  into  his  Irish  views.  I  wonder  how  many  will 
stand  out  and  lose  their  seats  in  consequence. 

Courtney  detested  the  Birmingham  brand  of  "  socialism  " 
almost  as  heartily  as  Plome  Rule  ;  and  he  had  no  desire  that 
a  party  pledged  to  the  one  and  likely  to  swallow  the  other 
should  return  to  power.  When  Jesse  Coilings'  amendment 
to  the  Address  was  put  to  the  vote  he  again  supported  the 
Government,  in  common  with  sixteen  other  Liberals,  among 
them  Lord  Hartington,  Goschen,  Sir  Henry  James  and 
Arthur  Elliot.  No  such  momentous  division  had  taken 
place  since  the  repeal  of  the  Corn  Laws  ;  for  it  inaugurated 
a  working  alliance  between  the  bulk  of  the  Liberal  party  and 
the  Irish  Nationalists  on  the  one  hand,  and  between  the 
Conservatives  and  the  Liberal  Unionists  on  the  other.  On 
that  night  the  lines  were  marked  out  along  which  British 
poUtics  were  to  travel  till  the  outbreak  of  war  in  1914. 


January  27. — L.  came  home  at  2.30  a.m.  and  told  me  all 
was  up ;  Government  beaten  by  79,  including  74  ParneUites. 
He  had  voted  with  sixteen  other  Liberals  against  the  amendment. 
Rather  depressed  at  the  situation.  Chamberlain  triumphant ! 
It  is  a  great  success  for  him  to  have  so  rapidly  converted  Mr. 
Gladstone  to  one  point  of  the  unauthorised  programme.  One 
curious  incident  was  that  after  ChapHn  and  other  Conservatives 
had  attacked  the  Compulsory  Allotment  scheme,  Mr.  Balfour 
rose  at  the  very  end  and  said  the  Conservative  Government  had 
got  the  same  scheme  in  their  Local  Government  Bill.  L.  said  to 
Lord  Hartington  and  Sir  Henry  James,  "  Under  these  circum- 


stances  we  might  walk  out  "  ;  but  Lord  H.  would  not  do  this, 
and  L.  did  not  like  at  the  last  moment  to  desert  him.  It  would 
have  saved  a  good  deal  of  trouble  in  Cornwall  had  he  done  so. 

A  few  hours  after  the  fatal  division  Courtney  wrote  to 
one  of  his  constituents  to  explain  his  vote.  The  letter 
appeared  not  only  in  the  press  of  the  West  of  England  but  in 
the  Times. 

To  a  Constituent 

January  27. — I  daresay  some  of  my  Bodmin  friends  may  be 
discussing  my  vote  against  Mr.  Jesse  Collings,  and  though  I 
think  they  will  see  I  could  not  have  voted  with  him,  I  should 
certainly  have  conferred  with  them  on  the  subject  had  time 
permitted.  You  will  remember  how  again  and  again  during  the 
contest  I  said  I  should  not  support  Mr.  Collings'  scheme.  I  was 
not  prepared  to  give  compulsory  powers  of  taking  lands  to  let 
again  to  local  bodies  until  at  least  we  had  learnt  by  experience 
how  freely  land  could  be  got  when  landowners  were  relieved 
from  the  fetters  imposed  upon  them  by  the  system  of  settlements. 
All  this  was  not9rious,  and  indeed  when  Mr.  Collings  came  to 
Menheniot  I  took  care  to  tell  the  meeting  that  though  he  and  I 
were  very  good  friends  we  had  differed  seriously,  did  differ  and 
probably  should  differ  in  future.  How  then  could  I  join  in 
voting  to  turn  out  the  Government  for  not  putting  into  the 
Queen's  Speech  proposals  I  said  I  could  not  support  myself  ? 
All  those  who  had  voted  for  me  on  the  faith  of  my  declaration 
would  have  justly  accused  me  of  deceiving  them. 

Letters  poured  in  from  East  Cornwall,  some  of  them  com- 
mending his  fidelity  to  principle,  others  bitterly  complaining 
that  on  a  vote  of  no  confidence  he  had  supported  the  Tory 
Government,  and  warning  him  that  neither  time  nor  events 
would  erase  the  memory  of  his  first  votes  in  the  new  Parlia- 
ment. The  wrath  of  a  section  of  Liberals  was  shared  by  the 
leader  of  the  party. 


January  30. — Tea  with  Dolly  Tennant  (later  Lady  Stanley). 
She  had  been  dining  in  company  with  Gladstone.  She  said  he 
was  in  great  spirits  and  vigour,  and  among  other  things  and 
people  Leonard  was  discussed.  He  was  regretting  the  absence 
of  financial  talent  among  the  Liberals  now.     It  used  to  be  our 

250  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

great  distinction,  he  said,  as  compared  with  our  opponents  ; 
but  we  have  not  an  economist  among  us  now.  Dolly  said, 
"  Oh  !  but  isn't  there  Mr.  Courtney  ?  "  "  Mr.  Courtney,"  was 
the  answer,  "  has  the  most  remarkable  financial  head  in  the 
House.  His  talents  at  the  Treasury  were  beyond  praise.  But," 
he  added  angrily,  "  the  other  night  he  deserted  me.  There  was 
not  the  slightest  necessity.  CoUings'  amendment  committed 
him  to  nothing.  Courtney  is  one  of  the  ablest  men  in  the  House  ; 
but  he  lacks  the  spirit  of  accommodation.  He  is  full  of  crotchets. 
He  left  me  last  year  on  a  fad  about  Proportional  Representation." 

The  Member  for  East  Cornwall  was  well  aware  that  his 
vote  on  the  Ceilings  amendment  had  destroyed  any  chance 
of  office.^  and  he  learned  of  the  formation  of  the  new  Govern- 
ment from  his  friends.  On  January  31  he  dined  with 
Chamberlain  and  sat  next  to  Mr.  Morley,  who  whispered  to 
him  that  he  had  been  offered  and  accepted  (with  many 
doubts  as  to  his  fitness)  the  Irish  Secretaryship  with  a  seat 
in  the  Cabinet.  The  appointment  was  symptomatic,  for 
Mr.  Morley  was  an  avowed  Home  Ruler.  He  also  learned 
that  his  host  had  refused  the  Admiralty  and  accepted  the 
Local  Government  Board.  Four  days  later  the  new  Ad- 
ministration was  complete,  aU  the  leading  members  of  the 
previous  Liberal  Ministry  finding  a  place  except  Lord 
Hartington  and  Sir  Henry  James.  To  the  general  surprise 
Lord  Spencer  and  Mr.  Trevelyan  accepted  office  in  what, 
despite  the  official  formula  that  it  was  only  pledged  to  inquiry, 
was  universally  regarded  as  a  Home  Rule  Administration. 
Courtney's  conception  of  the  duty  of  Liberals  was  explained 
to  a  friend  who  came  to  ask  whether  he  ought  to  accept  a 
minor  appointment  in  the  new  Government. 


February  7. — L.'s  view  of  the  situation  was  that  in  all  prob- 
abiUty  Home  Rule  was  now  inevitable,  owing  primarily  to  Mr. 
Gladstone  and  in  a  lesser  degree  to  the  statesmen  who  have 
joined    his    Government.     He    does    not    anticipate    sufficient 

1  "  The  Government  was  defeated  last  night,"  wrote  Lord  Esher. 
"  Hartington,  Goschen,  Derby,  H.  James  and  Courtney  will  have  to 
remain  outside  a  new  Government"  (Journals,  1880-1895,  144). 

xn  HOME  RULE  251 

resistance  in  the  House  of  Commons  to  prevent  it  passing.  If 
it  does  pass,  the  House  of  Lords  would  of  course  reject  it  and 
there  would  be  a  dissolution.  The  country  might  reject  the 
Gladstone  Government,  but  Home  Rule  being  incorporated  into 
the  programme  of  the  party  must  pass  within  a  few  years  ;  and 
those  would  be  years  of  fierce  agitation.  To  the  question  whether 
a  Liberal  who  beheved  it  would  bring  disaster  on  Ireland,  but 
also  believed  it  was  now  fated  to  come,  could  join  the  Government 
in  a  subordinate  post  L.'s  answer  was  that  he  at  any  rate  would 
feel  more  comfortable  outside. 

On  the  following  day  he  discussed  the  situation  in  a 
letter  to  one  of  his  oldest  friends. 

To  H.  J.  Rohy 

February  8,  1886. — I  have  not  been  asked  to  be  Chairman 
of  Committees,  but  I  think  it  possible  I  may  be.  I  have  not 
been  asked,  and  did  not  expect  to  be  asked  to  take  any  other 
post.  Whether  if  asked  I  shall  become  Chairman  I  do  not 
know.  My  present  inchnation  is  towards  acceptance,  the  post 
not  being  ministerial.  I  should  be  prepared  to  go  a  long  way 
on  the  Irish  question  if  necessary ;  but,  holding  that  Home 
Rule  means  increased  social  misery  for  many  years  with  a  most 
doubtful  and  hazardous  chance  of  recovery  after  a  generation 
or  so,  I  was  not  prepared  to  give  way  without  at  least  trying  to 
rule  the  House  of  Commons.  It  looks  as  if  there  is  to  be  a  sur- 
render to  the  eighty-six,  and  indeed  the  motive  of  action  avowed 
by  Morley  at  Chelmsford  (and  privately  on  many  occasions)  is 
the  necessity  of  getting  the  Irish  representation  out  of  the  House. 
This  seems  to  me  rather  pitiable.  However,  Gladstone's  action 
has  probably  made  that  inevitable  which  was  not  so,  and  if  not 
in  the  present  Parliament,  then  in  the  ParHament  after  the  next, 
say  in  six  years.  Home  Rule  wiU  be  carried.  Accepting  this,  my 
desire  is  that  when  carried  it  shall  be  in  the  form  of  a  Colonial 
Constitution,  not  a  Federation.  A  Federation  would  perpetuate 
friction,  remonstrances,  ill-will,  as  against  which  a  hostile  tariff 
would  be  a  cheap  alternative.  I  beheve  all  Irishmen  not  Par- 
neUites  are  in  despair,  and  not  a  few  PameUites  are  scared  at  the 
prospect  of  getting  what  they  said  they  wanted. 

It  was  generally  anticipated  that  Courtney  would  be 
offered  the  post  of  Chairman  of  Committees.  His  know- 
ledge of  constitutional  history  and  precedent  was  profound. 

252  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

and  he  possessed  a  complete  acquaintance  with  the  forms 
of  the  House.  His  resignation  had  made  him  available  for 
occasional  service  at  the  table  ;  and  in  the  session  of  1885 
he  often  took  the  place  of  Sir  Arthur  Otway,  when  he  was 
too  imwell  to  attend.  Never  lacking  in  self-confidence,  he 
employed  the  authority  entrusted  to  him  with  the  assurance 
of  an  old  Parliamentary  hand.  "  One  Friday  night,"  wrote 
his  wife  in  her  Journal,  "  he  came  home  in  great  spirits, 
having  called  half  the  House  to  order,  including  the  Grand 
Old  Man.  The  Prime  Minister  took  it  very  well,  and 
afterwards  expressed  his  admiration  to  Mr.  Rathbone." 
Goschen,  who  shared  the  behef  that  the  post  would  be 
offered  to  him,  expressed  a  hope  that  he  would  not  tie  his 
hands  in  the  coming  struggle  for  the  Union. 

On  February  16,  Mr.  Morley  came  to  tell  his  friend  that 
the  Prime  Minister  would  only  be  too  glad  if  he  would  accept 
the  Chairmanship  of  Committees.  When  the  House  met  on 
February  18  without  any  communication  from  Downing 
Street,  it  looked  as  if  he  had  changed  his  mind ;  but  next 
morning  the  expected  messenger  arrived  at  Cheyne  Walk 
at  12  o'clock. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

Bearing  in  mind  the  communications  between  us  at  the  time 
when  I  failed  to  avert  your  resignation,  you  will  not  be  surprised 
when  I  say  how  happy  I  should  have  been  to  number  you  among 
the  members  of  the  present  Government.  But  an  intimation 
which  reached  me  impressed  me  with  the  belief  (I  had  also  read 
your  printed  essays  on  the  Irish  question)  that  you  might  find 
obstacles  in  your  way,  while  at  the  same  time  you  would  not  be 
disinclined  to  accept  the  important  office  of  Deputy  Speaker 
and  Chairman  of  Committees,  for  which  you  are  (I  think)  univer- 
sally considered  to  have  unrivalled  qualifications.  I  was  doubtful 
yesterday  whether  we  should  be  in  a  condition  to  set  up  Supply 
to-day,  or  I  should  have  addressed  this  note  to  you  before  we 
met  in  Parliament.  Its  object  is  to  request  that  you  will  permit 
me  to  propose  to-day  that  you  take  the  Chuir,  and  I  am  sure  that 
your  assent  will  give  just  and  lively  satisfaction. 

No  time  was  allowed  for  consideration  ;  but  as  the 
office  was  non- political  and   the   Prime  Minister's  letter 

xn  HOME  RULE  253 

conceded  freedom  from  responsibility  on  the  Irish  question, 
the  offer  was  accepted,  and  the  messenger  carried  back  the 

To  W.  E.  Gladstone 

I  am  extremely  grateful  for  the  very  kind  and  flattering 
words  in  which  you  invite  me  to  be  proposed  to  the  House  as 
Deputy  Speaker  this  evening.  Had  time  permitted  I  should 
like  to  have  withheld  my  reply  until  I  had  an  opportunity, 
which  perhaps  you  would  have  afforded  me,  of  a  few  minutes' 
conversation  on  the  position  of  the  Chairman  and  to  have  con- 
sulted one  or  two  intimate  friends ;  but  any  delay  in  decision 
must  now  cause  embarrassment  not  to  be  justified  without 
stronger  hesitation  than  I  feel.  I  therefore  accept  with  sincere 
gratitude  your  offer,  relying  on  your  kindness  in  the  future  as 
it  has  been  abundantly  manifested  in  the  past. 

After  despatching  his  reply  Courtney  called  on 
Hartington,  who  approved,  and  Goschen,  who  acquiesced, 
and  then  hurried  into  his  dress  clothes.  The  acceptance  of 
the  post  removed  him  from  the  fighting  hne.  But  though 
unable  to  raise  his  voice  in  public  protest  against  Home 
Rule,  his  opinions  were  well  known  to  his  party,  and  his 
opposition  was  not  without  influence  on  the  wavering 
throng.  "  In  the  early  days  of  the  short-lived  Parliament 
of  1886,"  writes  Mr.  Arthur  Elliot,  "  the  hearty  support 
given  by  Leonard  Courtney  to  the  cause  of  the  Union  was 
of  no  smaU  importance.  His  previous  career  and  known 
independence  of  character  had  made  his  personaUty  and 
attitude  of  mind  famiUar  to  all  who  followed  contemporary 
poUtics.  Having,  according  to  his  usual  fashion,  made  up 
his  mind  for  himself,  he  took  his  Une  boldly.  In  the  early 
days  of  Liberal  Unionism  he  used  occasionally  to  attend 
Committee  meetings  and  was  at  aU  times  much  consulted 
by  the  leading  and  active  members  of  that  party.  But 
having  been  elected  Chairman  of  Committees,  he  held 
himself  to  a  great  extent  aloof  from  the  regular  organisation 
and  party  work  of  Liberal  Unionist  Committees ;  and  he 
rarely  appeared  at  the  office  in  Spring  Gardens,  the  head- 
quarters of  combatant  Liberal  Unionism,  or  at  Devonshire 
House,  where  from  time  to  time  Lord  Hartington  used  to 

254  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

call  the  whole  body  of  Liberal  Unionist  M.P.'s  together  for 

The  opening  weeks  of  the  session  were  outwardly  dull. 
Every  one  was  waiting  for  the  Prime  Minister  to  define  his 
Irish  poUcy,  and  even  Chamberiain  held  his  hand  till  the 
situation  became  clearer.  Home  Rulers  and  Unionist 
Liberals,  Birmingham  Radicals  and  IndividuaHst  Whigs, 
continued  to  meet  and  to  canvass  the  prospects  of  their 
respective  parties. 

From  Joseph  Chamberlain  to  Mrs.  Courtney 

March  2. — I  hope  to  present  myself  at  your  house  about  4.30 
on  Sunday.  I  shall  be  happy  to  meet  Lady  Trelawny  and  still 
more  pleased  to  see  you  again,  although  you  and  your  husband 
are  heretics  and  do  not  belong  to  the  true  Radical  fold.  You 
ought  to  be  guillotined  both  of  you — ^but  when  the  time  comes  I 
shall  try  and  save  you. 


March  7. — Chamberlain  in  the  afternoon.  Makes  himself 
very  agreeable  to  Lady  Trelawny.  After  she  left  he  remained 
talking  in  his  very  fresh  way  of  the  situation.  He  said  every 
one,  including  himself,  was  waiting  for  Mr.  Gladstone's  Irish 
scheme.  When  it  comes,  as  to  the  Tories  opposing  it  success- 
fully, they  must  turn  more  than  one  hundred  constituencies. 
"  And  public  opinion  on  the  Liberal  side  ?  "  said  I.  "  The 
caucus  is  public  opinion,"  he  said ;  "  and  if  you  ask  me  what 
public  opinion  will  do,  I  tell  you  frankly  that  for  once  I  don't 
know."  He  judged  the  new  House  to  be  a  thoroughly  good, 
businesslike  one  as  well  as  immensely  radical,  and  appealed  to 
Leonard  if  the  former  was  not  so.  L.  replied,  "  Yes,  they  don't 
make  long  speeches,  but  I  can't  say  it  is  a  well-informed  House. 
Most  of  the  new  Members  seem  quite  unprepared  with  any  other 
side  of  a  question."  Mr.  C.  answered,  "  They  are  as  well  in- 
formed as  they  need  be.  They  have  been  sent  to  do  certain 
things."  Decidedly  Mr.  Chamberlain  sees  forces  rather  than 
principles  in  politics.  He  also  said  that  he  felt  sure  the  English 
democracy  would  not  be  influenced  in  their  judgment  as  to 
Home  Rule  by  any  care  for  the  landlords  or  for  the  rights  of  the 
Protestant  minority ;  but  they  might  have  the  feeling  the 
North  had  in  the  war  for  the  msiintenance  of  their  Union. 


Though  decUning  to  address  his  constituents  before  the 
production  of  the  measure,  Courtney  explained  his  views  on 
the  Irish  question  in  the  April  number  of  the  Contemporary 
Review.  He  dismissed  at  the  outset  one  of  the  popular 
arguments  against  Home  Rule  as  a  baseless  fear,  confessing 
that  he  anticipated  no  danger  to  Great  Britain.  Peril 
threatened  Ireland  alone.  The  rights  of  landowners  might 
be  safeguarded  against  direct  confiscation ;  but  in  industry 
and  commerce,  education,  the  professions,  the  judicature, 
pauperism  and  pubhc  expenditure,  bad  legislation  would 
be  inevitable.  A  slow  and  by  no  means  uninterrupted 
renovation  was  in  progress  ;  but  that  process  had  now  been 
checked.  Home  Rule  became  practical  politics  on  the  day 
that  the  Redistribution  Act  received  the  Royal  Assent. 
The  return  of  eighty-six  NationaUsts  was  a  formidable  fact, 
and  it  was  rendered  the  more  formidable  since  the  House 
f^ed  to  defend  itself  against  them  by  a  reform  of  Procedure. 
Both  parties  were  to  blame  for  the  position.  Mr.  Gladstone 
had  brooded  for  yeajrs  over  the  possibiUties  of  Home  Rule ; 
and  the  carelessness  of  the  Conservative  Government  in  the 
previous  summer  was  inexpUcable,  except  on  the  theory 
that  its  leading  spirits  had  arrived  at  the  conclusion  that 
the  victory  of  Home  Rule  was  assured.  At  the  moment  of 
writing.  Home  Rule  was  not  yet  ofiiciaUy  adopted  as  a 
plank  in  the  Liberal  platform ;  but  no  party  could  continue 
to  have  two  opinions  on  such  a  subject,  and,  once  adopted, 
it  would  survive  a  first  disaster,  remain  the  rallying-cry  of 
the  party  and  ultimately  become  the  symbol  of  victory. 

If  Home  Rule  was  perhaps  inevitable,  should  its 
opponents  abstain  from  active  opposition,  and,  after 
registering  their  protest,  take  their  share  in  framing  the  new 
constitution  ?  There  was  something  to  be  said  for  such  a 
course.  For  instance,  the  simplest  plan  would  be  to  con- 
cede a  separate  tariff — the  privilege  of  every  colony — and 
exclude  the  Irish  members  frcim  Westminster.  If  Home 
Rule  was  to  come,  let  it  come  in  the  form  of  colonial  self- 
government.  The  right  of  maintaining  Imperial  garrisons 
would  remain,  and  Ireland  would  be  poor  in  everything 
save   men.     Should   Protestant    Ulster   be   cut    off   from 

256  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Nationalist  Ireland  ?  If  so,  the  situation  of  Unionists  in 
the  rest  of  the  island  would  be  more  desperate  than  ever. 
The  sacrifice  of  minorities  must  be  faced  in  any  case,  and 
the  smallest  number  would  be  sacrificed  if  Ulster  continued 
to  be  represented  at  Westminster.  Some  representation  of 
minorities  might  be  secured  in  the  Irish  Upper  House,  if 
not  in  the  Lower.  After  an  elaborate  discussion  of  the 
machinery  of  Home  Rule,  the  author  ends,  as  he  began, 
with  a  bitter  lament.  "  Let  the  Irish  party  be  ever  so 
loyal ;  let  it  be  scrupulous  to  protect  the  claims  of  those 
whom  it  has  most  in  aversion  ;  let  no  occasion  of  dispute 
arise  over  the  terms  of  settlement  with  Great  Britain  ;  yet 
I  conceive  the  change  must  operate  to  put  back  Ireland  in 
the  path  of  advancement.  Surveying  its  future,  I  feel 
nothing  but  anguish  at  a  retrogression,  the  recovery  from 
which,  once  accompUshed,  must  be  long  delayed,  if,  indeed, 
it  should  ever  be  reahsed."  The  article  was  sent  to  Lord 
Hartington,  who  warmly  approved  its  arguments. 

From  Lord  Hartington 

March  20. — I  would  certainly  recommend  you  to  publish  it. 
I  do  not  see  that  its  pessimist  tone  is  any  objection  to  publication. 
I  entirely  agree  with  the  pessimism  as  to  the  results  of  Home 
Rule.  Perhaps  I  do  not  go  so  far  as  you  do  in  anticipating  it 
as  inevitable  ;  but  the  best  hope  of  averting  it  is  to  put  before 
people  clearly  what  Home  Rule  really  means,  which  I  think  you 
have  done  far  more  completely  than  anybody. 

The  first  sign  of  the  coming  cataclysm  was  the  resigna- 
tion of  Chamberlain  and  Trevelyan,  the  latter  of  whom 
remarked  to  Mrs.  Courtney  that  five-sixths  of  the  Liberal 
party  were  ready  to  follow  any  strong  man  who  would  give 
a  lead  against  Home  Rule.  "  The  defection  of  friends," 
wrote  Lord  Acton  from  Cannes  to  Mrs.  Drew,  "  strengthens 
the  enemy's  argument ;  and  that  is  already  strong  for  any 
one  who  is  not  sound  in  the  Liberal  doctrine,  a  thing  beyond 
Liberal  poUcy.  The  concentration  of  everything  in  your 
father's  hands  is  appalling,  because  one  cannot  see  what 
the  future  is  to  be  hke.     His  old  weakness — the  want  of  an 


heir — ^is  very  serious  now.  I  did  not  think  very  well  of  the 
new  Government,  and  I  like  it  less  now.  I  very  seriously 
regret  Trevelyan's  resignation.  Lefevre  is  a  loss.  So  I 
think  is  Courtney."  ^  The  introduction  of  the  Home  Rule 
Bill  on  April  8  dispersed  the  cloud  of  speculation  which  had 
covered  the  pohtical  arena  since  the  Hawarden  kite  was 
launched.  The  first  act  of  the  great  drama  has  been 
described  by  a  hundred  pens  ;  but  we  may  once  again 
survey  the  historic  scene  from  the  Ladies'  Gallery  through 
the  spectacles  of  an  ardent  Liberal  Unionist. 


April  8. — I  go  to  the  House  of  Commons  to  hear  Gladstone 
introduce  his  Home  Rule  Bill.  Members  were  there  at  seven  in 
the  morning,  engaging  places,  and  chairs  were  placed  all  up  the 
gangway.  When  Gladstone  entered  the  House  he  had  a  great 
ovation  from  the  Irish  members  and  below  the  gangway.  He  at 
once  rose  and  began  a  speech  which  lasted  three  hours  and 
twenty-five  minutes — a  marvellous  feat  for  a  man  of  seventy- 
seven.  It  was  a  very  dramatic  scene,  and  at  times  his  eloquence 
nearly  carried  me  away,  and  made  me  think  whether  after  all 
this  Home  Rule  scheme  would  not  make  all  Irishmen  happy 
and  contented  and  good  citizens  ;  but  by  this  morning  I  have 
come  back  to  a  soberer  judgment.  One  good  thing  is  that  the 
Bill  is  not  whittled  down,  but  stands  out  as  a  pretty  complete 
measure  of  separation,  which  is  far  better  than  some  half  measure 
which  neither  frees  England  nor  satisfies  Irish  aspirations. 

April  9. — Chamberlain  made  a  most  damaging  speech  against 
the  Bill,  which,  however,  he  weakened  by  giving  a  rather  crude 
alternative  scheme  for  Federation  which  was  flouted  by  the 
Parnellites  and  fell  rather  flat.  Lord  Hartington  was  simple, 
honest,  free  from  any  personal  bitterness,  and  very  effective 
against  the  Bill.  Mr.  Morley  answered  in  a  speech  which  was 
nervously  delivered,  and  conspicuous  rather  for  its  gloomy  fore- 
casts of  what  would  happen  if  Home  Rule  were  not  granted  than 
for  any  sanguine  anticipation  of  its  good  results. 

April  13. — Last  day  of  debate.  An  amusing  speech  from 
Sir  W.  Harcourt,  full  of  wit  and  personalities,  but  with  no  attempt 
to  defend  a  single  provision  of  the  Bill.  Goschen  follows,  argu- 
ments weighty,   manner  awkward,   and   voice   rather  croaky. 

^  Letters  to  Mary  Gladstone,  175-76. 

258  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

About  midnight  Gladstone  rises  and  delivers  the  most  eloquent 
speech  I  have  heard  from  him.  It  made  one  feel  that  no  one 
comes  near  him  in  oratory — voice  magnificent  and  style  very  fine, 
but  arguments  often  very  dishonest  to  my  mind. 

Three  days  later  the  Prime  Minister  introduced  the  Land 
Bill,  and  his  Irish  policy  was  now  fully  before  the  country 
for  acceptance  or  rejection.  After  a  short  but  sharp  con- 
flict the  National  Liberal  Federation  rejected  the  appeal  of 
its  Birmingham  founder,  and  by  an  overwhelming  majority 
decided  to  obey  the  call  of  the  veteran  Prime  Minister. 
The  Liberal  rank  and  file  throughout  the  country  followed 
its  example.  Courtney's  reflections  on  the  Bill  and  the 
situation  were  set  forth  in  a  letter  written  at  the  beginning 
of  the  Easter  recess. 

To  H.  J.  Roby 

April  20. — I  look  upon  the  future  of  Ireland,  supposing 
Gladstone's  Bills  were  to  pass,  as  one  of  deepening  misery.  The 
economic  distress  which  is  the  sting  of  the  present  situation  would 
increase.  John  Morley  dined  quietly  with  my  wife  and  myself 
on  Sunday  evening,  and  I  did  not  find  that  his  view  of  the  future 
was  appreciably  different  from  my  own.  He  holds  more  clearly 
that  it  is  inevitable,  and  that  the  Irish  must  be  got  out  of  the 
House  of  Commons.  I  am  not  much  more  sanguine,  but  I  would 
go  on  trying  on  the  old  lines,  although  it  is  very  hard  to  entertain 
any  confidence  that  the  Conservatives  under  Randolph  Churchill 
would  not  sell  us.  I  think  if  we  could  know  Hartington's  inmost 
mind  we  might  see  that  he  was  as  little  removed  from  me  on  one 
side  as  Morley  is  on  the  other.  Then  as  to  the  Bills — will  they 
pass  ?  The  Home  Rule  BiU  may  be  read  a  second  time  by  a 
small  majority,  but  will  apparently  perish  in  Committee.  Although 
Chamberlain  is  chagrined  at  his  apparent  want  of  power,  there  is 
no  real  rapprochement  between  him  and  the  Government.  He 
makes  the  retention  of  the  Irish  members  at  Westminster  in- 
dispensable, and  the  Government  have  not  the  least  intention  of 
conceding  that.  Morley  would  go  out  and  not  alone  even  if  the 
Old  Man  himself  was  willing,  which  I  do  not  beheve,  to  entertain 
the  concession.  And  if  the  Bills  fail,  what  is  to  happen  ?  Diffi- 
culty in  Ireland  of  course  ;  perhaps  violence  in  the  House  of 
Commons.  But  can  one  without  a  struggle  abandon  a  third  or 
a  quarter  of  Ireland  to  the  tender  mercies  of  the  other  two-thirds 
or  three-fourths  ? 

301  HOME  RULE  259 

After  sectional  meetings  and  an  address  to  his  followers 
by  the  Prime  Minister  at  the  Foreign  Office,  Chamberlain, 
Trevelyan  and  Bright  resolved  to  vote  against  the  Bill. 
The  original  Whig  dissentients  such  as  Hartington  and 
Goschen  would  not  have  been  strong  enough  to  throw  out 
the  measure  ;  but  the  defection  of  the  Radical  group  sealed 
its  fate.  Throughout  these  anxious  weeks  Courtney  felt 
himself  debarred  by  his  official  position  from  speaking  ;  but 
he  rejoiced  to  discover  that  so  influential  a  section  of  his 
party  shared  his  dislike  of  Home  Rule,  and  would  assist 
him  to  defeat  it.  The  second  act  of  the  Home  Rule  drama 
has  been  described  as  often  as  the  first,  but  we  may  watch 
it  once  more  from  the  Ladies'  GaUery. 


June  8. — ^At  last  the  long  deferred  day  for  the  second  reading 
has  come.  How  will  it  go  ?  Guesses  range  from  a  majority  of 
six  for  to  a  majority  of  thirty  against,  the  prevalent  opinion  being 
a  very  small  majority  against.  Goschen  began  in  a  speech  full  of 
good  argument,  but  Leonard  thought  it  ineffective.  He  was 
followed  by  Parnell  in  a  most  able  speech,  full  of  tact  and  modera- 
tion and  assurances  to  the  Irish  Protestants  of  the  welcome  they 
would  get  in  the  Irish  Parliament,  and  with  a  distinct  statement 
that  in  the  autumn  a  Conservative  Cabinet  Minister  had  offered 
him  a  statutory  Parliament  in  Dublin  with  power  of  protecting 
Irish  industries.  When  he  sat  down  I  went  to  dinner  with  L. 
in  his  room,  and  we  thought  the  evening's  debate  was  telling 
against  the  Unionists.  Mr.  John  Morley,  whom  we  met  in  the 
lobby,  said  it  was  strange  that  even  now  no  one  knew  how  the 
division  would  go.  After  dinner  Sir  Michael  Hicks-Beach 
delivered  a  rather  plain,  heavy  speech,  enlivened  by  a  duel  with 
Parnell  about  the  alleged  offer  of  Parliament  and  Protection  by 
a  Conservative  Minister.  Parnell  got  up  and  repeated  his  state- 
ment emphatically.  There  were  loud  cries  of  "  Name,"  and  to 
a  challenge  from  Randolph  and  Hicks-Beach  Parnell  answered, 
"  When  his  colleague  gives  me  permission  I  shall  be  glad  to  do  so." 
At  last  came  the  Old  Man's  speech,  as  vigorous  as  ever  and  in 
beautiful  voice,  but  it  was  a  losing  speech.  He  chaffed  Cham- 
berlain about  his  alternative  schemes.  "  The  Right  Honourable 
Gentleman  might  well  say  that  a  dissolution  had  no  terror  for 
him,  for  he  has  set  his  sail  to  catch  a  popular  breeze  from  any 

26o  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

quarter."  A  very  eloquent  peroration,  magnificent  in  general 
principles  and  prophesying  victory  in  the  future  if  not  in  the 
present.  The  question  was  put  amid  great  excitement.  We 
thought  from  the  faces  of  the  Treasury  Bench  when  the  Whips 
came  in  that  victory  was  with  the  Opposition  ;  but  to  my  surprise 
the  munbers  were  311  for,  342  against,  with  93  Liberals  in  the 
majority.  Then  followed  a  scene.  After  the  cheers  of  the 
Opposition  had  subsided,  the  Irish  rose  en  masse  and  waved  and 
cheered  like  madmen  ;  and  some  one  calling  out  "  Three  Cheers 
for  the  Grand  Old  Man,"  they  were  given.  They  were  followed 
by  groans  for  Chamberlain,  and  the  Irish  stood  up  and  hissed  at 
him  hke  wild  cats,  and  then  made  the  same  fiendish  noise  at  the 
Ulster  members — a  queer  comment  on  Parnell's  affectionate 
words  to  them.  Mr.  Gladstone  got  up  and  moved  the  adjourn- 
ment till  Thursday,  when  he  would  state  the  course  the  Govern- 
ment would  pursue.  Walked  through  a  crowd  of  excited  people 
with  Leonard  and  Henry  Hobhouse,  and  was  rather  glad  L.  was 
not  recognised,  as  there  were  some  Irish  among  them  who  were 
talking  of  lynching  Chamberlain  if  they  caught  him.  As  Henry 
said,  he  was  the  hero  of  the  hour.     How  the  Irish  hate  him  ! 

Parliament  was  immediately  dissolved,  and  the  Liberal 
Unionists  hurried  away  to  their  constituencies,  uncertain  of 
the  reception  that  awaited  them,  though  well  aware  that  it 
would  be  a  stem  fight.  Mrs.  Courtney  was  indefatigable 
on  the  platform,^  Miss  Tod  presented  the  case  for  Irish 
Unionist  Liberals  at  most  of  the  meetings,  and  Mrs.  Fawcett 
rendered  valuable  aid.  Bodmin  was  unfriendly,  but  Lis- 
keard,  with  longer  personal  associations,  stood  by  its  mem- 
ber. When  the  delegates  of  the  Liberal  party  declared 
against  the  sitting  member  by  58  to  8,  and  appointed  a 
Committee  to  select  another  candidate,  the  Conservative 
Association  rallied  to  his  support.  His  Election  Address 
was  wholly  devoted  to  Ireland,  for  which  he  prescribed 
county  self-government  instead  of  Home  Rule.  In  reply 
to  the  taunt  that  he  had  entered  public  life  under  Gladstone's 
auspices,  and  then  turned  against  him,  he  referred  to  his 
frequent  denunciations  of  Home  Rule  at  a  time  when  it 
was  rarely  mentioned  by  other  pohticians.  That  his  meet- 
ings should  often  be  disturbed  was  inevitable  in  that  dark 

*  In  1886  and  1892  Courtney's  duties  in  the  Chair  prevented  him  from 
taking  bis  full  share  in  the  work  of  electioneering. 

xir  HOME  RULE  261 

hour  when  Liberals  turned  their  swords  against  one  another  ; 
but  the  candidate  said  nothing  to  inflame  the  passions  of 
his  hearers.  "  I  hope  that  whenever  the  name  of  Mr. 
Gladstone  is  uttered,"  he  declared  at  Saltash,  "  it  will  be 
received  with  honour.  I  do  not  know  what  was  in  his 
innermost  mind,  but  Home  Rule  was  certainly  not  in  his 
programme."  On  the  eve  of  the  poll  the  candidate  described 
the  novel  situation  in  which  he  found  himself. 

To  Mrs.  Fawcett 

July  4. — You  may  have  noted  the  vicissitudes  of  our  opposi- 
tion. There  is  a  strange  admixture  of  the  ridiculous  in  the  present 
situation ;  but  the  working  men  are  so  thoroughly  Gladstonian 
that  the  adverse  poll  will  be  fairly  large.  As  a  man  said  at  the 
close  of  a  village  meeting  last  night,  "  Mr.  Courtney  is  quite  right. 
I  agree  with  all  he  said.  It  would  never  do  to  have  a  separate 
Parliament  in  Ireland  ;  but  Mr.  Gladstone  has  been  the  friend  of 
the  working  man  and  we  must  stand  by  him." 

After  a  strenuous  campaign  Courtney  was  elected  by  an 
increased  majority  of  1653.  The  ParneUites  maintained 
their  numbers.  Seventy-eight  Liberal  Unionists  were  re- 
turned to  help  Lord  Salisbury  to  hold  the  fort  against  Home 
Rule ;  but  Scotland,  Wales  and  the  north  of  England  stood 
by  the  Liberal  leader. 



When  Lord  Salisbury  was  returned  to  power  at  the  General 
Election  Courtney  was  reappointed  Chairman  of  Commit- 
tees. The  attractions  of  the  post  outweighed  its  dis 
advantages.  He  was  indeed  debarred  from  the  unfettered 
expression  of  his  opinions  on  every  topic  ;  but  on  the  other 
hand  it  gave  him  a  dignified  position,  and  nobody  questioned 
his  capacity  for  the  duties  which  he  was  appointed  to 
perform.  Under  existing  circumstances  the  post  offered  an 
additional  attraction.  Mr,  Birrell  has  named  the  House 
which  met  in  1886  "  the  uncomfortable  Parliament,"  since 
the  Gladstonians  and  Liberal  Unionists  sat  cheek  by  jowl 
on  the  front  Opposition  bench,  while  thundering  against 
each  other  on  the  dominant  issue  of  the  time.  Courtney 
was  not  the  man  to  shirk  the  consequences  of  his  vote  on 
the  Home  Rule  Bill ;  but  he  was  not  sorry  to  find  himself 
sitting  at  the  table  and  in  the  Speaker's  chair,  "  above  the 
battle."  1  Opinions  differed  as  to  the  merits  of  Courtney's 
political  convictions  and  conduct ;  but  there  is  an  almost 
unprecedented  consensus  as  to  his  services  to  pubhc  business. 
The  most  experienced  of  observers  pronounced  him  a  bom 
Chairman  of  Ways  and  Means ;  and  Gladstone's  high 
opinion  was  confirmed  by  further  experience. 

From  William  Rathhone,  M.P.  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

May  19,  1887. — I  dined  with  Mr.  Gladstone  last  night  and  I 
am  sure  you  would  be  gratified  if  you  had  heard  the  way  in 

^  When  the  Speaker  was  in  the  Chair  Courtney  sat  on  the   Front 
Opposition  Bench ;   but  he  was  an  official  of  the  House,  not  a  party  chief. 


CHAP,  xm         CHAIRMAN  OF  COMMITTEES  263 

which  he  spoke,  with  the  full  assent  of  all  present,  of  the  way  in 
which  Mr.  Courtney  had  done  his  work  as  Chairman  of  Committees. 
He  Scdd  he  had  seen  a  great  many  Chairmen  but  never  yet  one 
who  came  up  to  Mr.  Courtney ;  that  the  prompt  way  in  which 
he  seemed  to  strike  at  once  what  ought  to  be  done,  and  the  clear- 
ness with  which  he  stated  his  points,  was  something  wonderful. 
Harcourt  and  several  other  Members  of  Parliament  were  there, 
and  all  agreed  with  what  he  said  ;  and  I  am  sure  that  you,  as  a 
good  wife,  will  like  to  hear  when  so  much  abuse  is  going  about 
that  somebody  is  found  who  can  be  praised. 

Gladstone's  verdict  was  shared  by  his  followers.  Lord 
Morley  pronounces  him  "  incomparable."  "  I  have  known 
several  Chairmen  of  Committees,"  records  Dr.  Farquhar- 
son  ;  ^  "  but  nothing  could  exceed  Lord  Courtney  for  prompt 
decision  and  absolute  integrity  and  impartiaUty."  "  In 
spite  of  his  strong  political  opinions,"  writes  Mr.  Herbert 
Paul,  "  he  was  the  embodiment  of  absolute  impartiality. 
He  would  not  ever  consent  to  any  of  those  arrangements 
about  the  order  of  speakers  in  debate  which  Whips  some- 
times make  with  the  Chair.  The  moment  he  took  his  seat 
at  the  table  he  seemed  to  forget  that  he  belonged  to  any 
party,  and  he  always  recognised  that  the  minority  were 
entitled  to  the  fullest  consideration  at  his  hands.  The 
Chairman  of  Committees,  though  technically  invested  while 
he  occupies  the  Chair  with  the  same  authority  as  the 
Speaker,  does  not  enjoy  the  same  commanding  position 
and  has  in  some  measure  to  depend  upon  his  own  personal 
influence  and  weight.  Lord  Courtney's  decisions  always 
found  acquiescence  because  they  were  at  once  perfectly 
lucid  and  obviously  fair.  The  judicial  turn  of  his  mind 
may  have  sometimes  diminished  the  interest  of  his  speeches. 
It  certainly  increased  the  value  of  his  rulings."  "  During 
these  six  trying  years,"  echoes  Mr.  Burt,  "  Mr.  Courtney 
acquitted  himself  admirably,  and  members  often  remarked 
that  he  would  make  an  ideal  Speaker.  He  had  indeed  all 
the  quaUfications  requisite  for  that  great  position.  A 
slight  personal  incident  in  connection  with  Mr.  Courtney's 
Chairmanship  may  be  mentioned.     In  one  of  my  infrequent 

^  The  House  of  Commons  from  Within,  p.  1 24. 

264  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

incursions  into  the  debates  a  line  of  poetry  came  to  my 
mind.  I  paused  a  moment,  remarking  that  I  did  not  know 
whether  I  durst  venture  to  quote  poetry  '  with  you,  Mr. 
Courtney,  in  the  Chair.'  Casually  meeting  him  a  short  time 
afterwards,  he  asked,  I  thought  somewhat  sternly,  what  I 
meant  by  sajdng  that  I  was  not  sure  that  I  dared  quote 
poetry  under  his  presidency  ?  Taken  aback  a  Uttle  I  said 
that  it  certainly  had  never  occurred  to  me  that  he  would 
not  appreciate  poetry,  but  as  we  were  discussing  finance  I 
thought  he  as  Chairman  might  not  consider  poetry  relevant, 
or  regard  Wordsworth  as  an  authority  on  such  a  subject. 
His  genial  smile  showed  that  my  impertinence  was  forgiven 
and  that  all  was  well  between  us."  The  Irish  wing  of  the 
Home  Rule  party  regarded  the  Chairman  with  equal 
approval  and  confidence.  "  His  action  was  sometimes 
very  peremptory,"  records  Justin  M'Carthy,  "  but  he  was 
absolutely  impartial  and  he  won  the  respect  of  everybody." 
"  Time  has  dulled  my  recollections  of  scenes  and  faces," 
wrote  Mr.  Thomas  Sexton  in  191 1,  "  but  I  have  still  two 
vivid  memory-pictures  of  Westminster — Mr.  Gladstone  at  the 
table  and  Mr.  Courtney  in  the  Chair."  Mr.  Swift  MacNeill  ^ 
recalls  how  an  Irish  Nationalist,  stung  by  the  speaker  who 
preceded  him,  paused  in  his  speech  and  had  actually  begun 
a  rush  across  the  floor  of  the  House  to  attack  the  maker  of 
the  provocative  speech.  "  Calmly  rising  from  the  Chair 
Courtney  asked  the  honourable  member,  out  of  regard  for 
the  Chair,  to  restrain  his  feelings.  The  effect  of  the  appeal 
was  magical,  and  was  met  by  an  apology  to  the  House." 

The  chorus  of  eulogy  is  swelled  by  the  voice  of  an  ardent 
Liberal  Unionist.  "  The  Chairmanship  of  Committees," 
writes  Mr.  Arthur  Elliot,  "  though  less  dignified  than  the 
Speakership,  is  not  a  more  easy  place  to  fill.  The  dignity 
and  authority  are  less  in  men's  eyes.  Action  has  to  be 
taken  and  important  decisions  given  almost  on  the  spm- 
of  the  moment  without  that  deliberation  and  taking  coimsel 
that  are  almost  always  possible  to  a  Speaker.  In  Committee 
on  a  Bin,  or  on  the  Estimates,  it  is  impossible  that  the  same 
rigid  formaUty  should  be  observed  as  on  a  full  dress  debate 

1  Pall  Mall  Gazette,  May  i6,  191 8. 


or  a  second  reading  or  a  vote  of  confidence.  Quickness  of 
perception  as  to  the  effect  and  tendency  of  proposed  amend- 
ments, firmness  of  decision,  constant  and  closest  attention, 
and  the  determination  to  give  an  equal  hearing  to  all  sides 
are  the  principal  qualifications  for  a  good  Chairman  ;  and 
in  all  these  respects  Courtney  excelled.  Speaker  Gully 
once  said  to  me  after  several  years'  experience  that  he  had 
never  felt  the  very  slightest  inclination  to  turn  towards  his 
own  political  friends  as  such  ;  but  that  he  had  felt  it  neces- 
sary to  guard  himself  against  allowing  his  desire  that  the 
House  should  get  on  with  business  to  induce  him  to  restrict 
the  liberty  of  the  Opposition  or  of  independent  members. 
Generally  speaking,  as  he  said,  the  Government  side  of  the 
House  wants  to  get  through  business  and  the  Opposition 
does  not ;  but  the  Chair  is  independent  of  the  Ministry 
and  has,  whilst  maintaining  order,  to  protect  the  minority 
and  individual  members  in  the  exercise  of  their  rights  of 
ample  criticism  and  debate.  Now  Courtney  was  by  nature 
the  friend  of  the  weak  against  the  strong,  the  opponent  of 
arbitrary  power,  the  friend  of  individual  independence  ;  so 
that  whilst  he  occupied  the  Chair  there  was  little  danger 
that  a  tyrannical  majority  would  be  suffered  to  abuse  its 
rights  and  trample  on  the  freedom  of  criticism  which  is  the 
privilege  of  aU  members  aUke. 

"  Courtney  in  the  Chair  was  no  respecter  of  persons,  as 
he  showed  again  and  again.  When  it  is  remembered  that 
during  his  Chairmanship  the  recasting  and  enforcement  of 
new  Rules  of  Procedure  came  into  effect,  that  the  Preven- 
tion of  Crime  Bill,  the  Pamell  Commission  Bill,  and  other 
measures  and  proceedings  of  the  Government  were  made 
the  subject  of  prolonged  and  embittered  controversy,  the 
House  of  Commons  has  reason  to  be  thankful  for  the  patient, 
tolerant  and  liberal  spirit  that  distinguished  the  conduct  of 
the  Chair.  In  those  days  doubtless  there  were  many  who 
would  have  been  better  pleased  if  he  had  been  less  patient 
with  *  Obstructionists,'  and  had  made  the  Chair  a  more 
subservient  instrument  of  the  Ministry  of  the  day.  In 
granting  or  refusing  the  closure  he  would  act  wholly  with 
regard  to  the  judgement  he  had  himself  formed  as  to  its 

266  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

expediency  in  the  interests  of  the  House  itself  and  of  freedom 
of  debate.  Whether  it  was  called  for  by  a  powerful  Minister 
of  the  Crown  or  a  member  of  Uttle  importance  would  affect 
his  decision  as  little  as  the  social  standing  of  two  Utigants 
would  affect  the  judgement  of  a  Judge  of  the  High  Court 
of  Justice.  If  he  erred  at  all  in  the  strictness  with  which 
he  would  enforce  rules  and  call  men  to  order,  it  would  be 
out  of  leniency  to  those  who  perhaps  knew  no  better,  while 
to  men  who  had  no  such  excuse  he  would  be  more  rigid. 
Now  that  the  heats  of  those  days  have  passed  away  there 
are  probably  few  who  do  not  recognise  that  his  Chairmanship 
during  the  strenuous  years  1886-1892  helped  much  to  main- 
tain at  a  high  level  the  invaluable  parhamentary  tradition  of 
Order  and  Free  Debate."  Against  these  testimonies  must 
be  set  the  complaint  of  some  Conservative  members  that  he 
allowed  too  much  latitude  to  the  Liberal  Irish  benches.^ 

No  Speaker  or  Chairman  of  Committees  is  infalhble  ; 
and  if  he  were  he  would  not  escape  criticism.  Courtney's 
peremptoriness,  which  struck  Justin  McCarthy  and  some 
other  observers,  at  times  kindled  sparks  ;  and  a  rebuke  to 
the  Leader  of  the  House  on  one  occasion  seemed  to  not  a 
few  observers  sharper  than  the  situation  demanded. 


May  1887. — I  hear  and  read  all  sorts  of  flattering  things  of 
him  and  am  beginning  to  think  it  is  time  to  utter  the  warning 
cry,  "  Take  heed  when  all  men  speak  well  of  you  !  "  He  dis- 
tinguished himself  by  refusing  Mr.  W.  H.  Smith  the  Closure. 
The  House  was  sitting  all  night,  and  Mr.  Smith  proposed  the 
Closure  on  a  whole  batch  of  amendments.  L.  singled  out  two 
which  he  thought  deserved  short  discussion,  thus  making  his 
own  precedent.  The  Irish  were  so  delighted  that  they  dropped 
the  others  at  once  and  allowed  a  division  to  be  taken  on  the 
exempted  ones  after  a  very  short  discussion.  The  Conservatives 
were  disappointed  at  first,  but  seeing  the  resiilt  was  a  quick 
despatch  of  business  were  more  cordial  than  ever  next  evening. 
A  few  days  later  he  distinguished  himself  by  calling  Gladstone 
to  order  in  the  middle  of  a  wrangle  between  the  two  front  benches 
and  making  him  sit  down. 

^  See  Sir  R.  Temple,  Letters  and  Character  Sketches  from  the  House  of 
Commons,  p.  169. 


The  refusal  of  the  closure  to  the  Leader  of  the  House 
was  an  example  of  the  right  thing  done  in  the  wrong  way. 
"  I  remember  Courtney's  abrupt  shake  of  the  head  without 
words,"  writes  Mr.  Arthur  ElUot,  "  and  the  flush  that  came 
over  Old  Morality's  plain  and  honest  face.  It  looked  Hke 
a  great  snub  to  a  most  modest  and  unassuming  man.  I 
am  sure  it  was  not  so  intended  ;  but  it  was  clumsily  done, 
and  Smith's  friends  were  very  angry.  A  few  words  in 
refusing  would  have  removed  aU  offence.  One  or  two  little 
things  of  the  sort  told  a  little  against  his  popularity  as 
Chairman."  On  the  death  of  the  Leader  of  the  House  in 
1891  Courtney  gave  his  own  version  of  these  passages  of 
arms.  "  I  often  found  it  my  duty  to  decUne  the  closure 
which  he  found  it  his  duty  to  ask.  Perhaps  I  was  wrong. 
Perhaps  he  was  wrong.  I  do  not  think,  however  dis- 
appointed he  was  at  times  at  finding  his  motion  rejected, 
he  ever  cherished  any  resentment.  Never  for  one  moment 
was  the  cordiality  of  our  relations  abated.  He  dreaded  the 
abuse  of  the  weapon  he  had  to  use.  Perhaps  he  at  times 
found  consolation  in  the  fact  that  the  Chair  was  constrained 
to  reject  his  motion,  because  he  was  urged  all  too  frequently 
by  his  followers." 

The  Chairman  also  came  into  sharp  conflict  with  the 
Home  Rulers  when,  on  February  28,  1890,  he  suspended 
Labouchere  for  persisting  in  accusing  Lord  Salisbury  of 
telling  lies.  The  Opposition  at  once  threatened  to  challenge 
his  ruUng  on  the  ground  of  undue  restriction  of  debate,  and 
two  days  later  Mr.  Morley  called  at  Cheyne  Walk  to  convey 
a  friendly  warning.  Next  day  Gladstone  gave  notice  of  a 
motion  that  a  Member  of  Parliament  might  contradict  a 
Peer — a  platitude  for  which  the  Chairman  of  Committees 
declared  himself  ready  to  vote.  The  Leader  of  the  Opposi- 
tion then  asked  for  an  interview  with  the  Chairman,  but 
no  result  was  reached.  Gladstone  seemed  to  be  waiting 
for  Courtney  to  make  some  proposal  which  would  enable 
him  to  withdraw  his  motion,  while  Courtney,  secure  in  his 
conviction  that  he  had  acted  rightly,  waited  for  the  enemy 
to  open  fire.  "  You  are  very  intimate  with  Courtney, 
are  you  not  ?  "  remarked  Gladstone  to  Mr.  Morley  after  the 

268  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

conversation  ;  "  don't  you  find  him  rather  costive  ?  " 
Courtney  was  equally  dissatisfied  with  the  meeting,  and 
remarked  that  he  had  never  had  a  really  satisfactory 
interview  with  the  Grand  Old  Man.  The  Chairman's 
unrepentant  attitude  was  not  without  its  effect,  for  the 
attack  was  abandoned. 

Though  Courtney  enjoyed  his  dignified  position,  he  often 
thirsted  for  his  old  Hberty ;  and  at  the  end  of  a  year  he 
explained  to  his  constituents  the  self-denial  involved  in  the 
discharge  of  its  duties.  "  I  am  a  non-combatant  in  our 
army ;  and  sometimes  the  suspicion  occurs  to  me  that  it 
may  perhaps  be  an  inglorious  retreat  in  which  I  have 
ensconced  myself.  I  have  never  greatly  coveted  the  distinc- 
tion, and  I  may  now  reveal  the  fact  that  I  declined  the  post 
in  1882.  Nor  do  I  hold  myself  so  wedded  to  it  that  I 
cannot  contemplate  the  time  when  I  should  wish  to  resume 
more  active  poUtical  hfe.  A  Chairman  of  Committees  is 
not  absolutely  disqualified  from  engaging  in  general 
debates ;  but  any  strong  expression  of  opinion  would 
diminish  his  authority,  and  on  burning  questions  it  would 
be  indiscreet  and  almost  impossible."  In  spite  of  strong 
temptation  he  set  a  guard  on  his  Ups  ;  and  his  views  on 
current  politics  were  reserved  for  the  electors  of  East 

The  short  session  of  1886,  mainly  devoted  to  Supply, 
kept  the  Chairman  of  Committees  busy  in  London  through- 
out August  and  September  ;  but  he  was  in  good  spirits,  and 
some  week-end  visits  provided  welcome  relief. 


August  21. — Go  down  to  Sir  John  Lubbock's  at  High  Elms 
for  Sunday.  Mr.  Chamberlain  and  his  son  Austen  join  us  at 
Victoria.  Hot  fine  Sunday.  L.  spends  it  reading  all  day  on  the 
lawn.  Sir  John  very  fond  of  his  young  trees  which  he  discusses 
with  Mr.  Chamberlain  very  eagerly.  He  shows  us  his  ants  also, 
some  of  which  he  has  had  twelve  years  watching.  His  keen 
interest  about  so  many  things  is  truly  wonderful,  and  I  have  no 
doubt  it  is  a  great  relief  when  politics  go  wrong  to  leave  the  House 
of  Commons  and  go  down  to  High  Elms  and  devote  himself  to 


his  ants  and  other  creatures  that  always  do  right  according  to 
their  appointed  natures.  Mr.  Chamberlain  is  evidently  much 
disgusted  with  politics  at  present  and  very  bitter  against 

Before  starting  for  a  well-earned  holiday  Courtney 
despatched  one  of  his  periodical  bulletins  to  his  old  friend 
in  Bombay. 

To  John  Scott 

September  22,  1886. — At  length  we  are  on  the  eve  of  a  hoHday. 
We  start  for  the  Rhineland,  resting  at  one  or  two  less  frequented 
cities  such  as  Worms  and  Spires,  as  well  as  Cologne  and  Heidel- 
berg, and  then  crossing  Switzerland  descend  upon  North  Italy — 
a  day  or  two  at  the  Lakes,  Milan,  Verona,  Venice.  When  this 
reaches  Bombay  we  ought,  I  think,  to  be  still  at  Venice.  We 
have  been  there  together,  have  we  not  ?  But  to  my  wife,  who 
has  echpsed  us  both  in  having  visited  CaUfornia  and  the  Second 
Cataract,  Italy  is  a  terra  incognita.  I  will  not  go  into  detail 
after  Venice,  but  Florence,  Arezzo,  Rome  are  points  on  which 
the  mind  rests.  Fancy  Arezzo  to  Rome — Caponsacchi  and 
PompiHa  flying  through  the  night !  At  the  end  of  two  months 
we  shall  be  back  in  London — I  hope  not  immersed  in  the  fogs  of 
nature  and  the  Currency  Commission. 

We  have  had  a  great  experience  since  I  wrote  last,  the 
experience  of  the  General  Election  ;  but  though  that  act  is  over 
the  end  is  not  yet,  nor  do  I  foresee  the  conclusion.  Like  Lord 
Falkland  I  ingeminate  peace,  but  with  little  better  prospect  of  a 
quick  or  good  result.  As  long  as  the  Old  Man  Hves  Home  Rule 
will  be  the  question  of  division,  and  the  longer  he  lives  the  more 
is  it  Ukely  to  be  confounded  with  the  Liberal  party.  His  personal 
influence  has  precipitated  a  struggle  which,  if  successful,  threatens 
Ireland  with  measureless  misery,  and  which,  unsettled,  plunges 
the  affairs  of  the  whole  Empire  into  confusion.  There  is  great 
temptation  to  unavaiUng  anger  in  contemplating  the  situation. 
The  first  battle  got  well  over,  the  Conservatives  having  risen  to 
the  occasion  and  responded  well  to  the  Liberal  Unionists ;  but 
it  is  almost  too  much  to  expect  them  to  maintain  the  same 
attitude  next  time,  and  we  may  then  see  the  Liberal  Unionists 
squeezed  out  and  no  Liberal  candidates  left  but  Home  Rulers 
to  fight  Conservatives.  In  this  way  Home  Rule  may  come  to  be 
the  one  subject  of  division  between  the  only  two  parties  of  the 
State.  The  Conservatives  will  ask  themselves  whether  they  are 
.not  strong  enough  to  put  in  members  who  are  thoroughly  with 

270  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap 

them  ;  and  the  Liberal  Unionists  themselves,  having  to  put  the 
Union  before  everything  else,  will  on  successive  issues  find  them- 
selves fighting  side  by  side  with  the  Conservatives  and  end  by 
being  nearly  indistinguishable  from  them.  Hartington  is,  of 
course,  the  most  conspicuous  example,  and  so  it  may  come  to 
pass  that  next  time  there  is  an  election  in  Rossendale  the  Con- 
servatives will  elect  a  man  of  their  own  unless  he  by  that  time 
becomes  one  of  their  own.  My  own  position  is  not  wholly  dis- 
similar, except  that  I  cannot  conceive  myself  under  any 
circumstances  falling  into  the  Conservative  ranks.  Many  Liberal 
voters,  as  well  as  Liberal  members,  will,  however,  become  Con- 
servative under  the  strain,  and  so  the  Conservatives  may  succeed 
in  obtaining  a  pure  majority.  This  is  a  sufficiently  lugubrious 
anticipation,  and  what  some  suggest  as  an  alternative,  though  it 
may  offer  an  escape  for  the  individual,  is  worse  for  the  country. 
It  is  that  Randolph  ChurchiU  will  in  a  year  or  two  get  his  party 
to  concede  Home  Rule  in  some  shape  or  other,  after  which  there 
would  be  a  resettlement  of  parties  on  some  other  question.  You 
will  see  I  am  not  hopeful. 

You  will  understand  that  the  Chairmanship  of  Committees 
affords  a  comparatively  quiet  resting-place.  Its  duties  are 
necessary  and  useful,  and  I  think  I  discharge  them  as  well  as 
most ;  but  it  may  be  doubtful  whether  it  is  not  a  little  inglorious 
to  retire  upon  them.  It  would  be  more  heroic  to  die  fighting, 
and  perhaps  when  the  fighting  comes  I  shall  have  to  put  aside 
my  office  and  descend  into  the  arena.  Hartington  has  come 
unblemished  through  the  business  on  the  one  hand  as  John  Morley 
on  the  other.  The  Old  Man  in  his  last  pamphlet  may  have  con- 
cealed from  himself,  but  scarcely  from  others,  the  impression  of 
having  by  partial  revealment  and  partial  concealment  adroitly 
led  on  his  followers  as  he  desired.  Of  the  said  followers  some  of 
the  more  democratic,  carried  on  by  catchwords  of  self-government, 
are  honest  Home  Rulers,  beUeving  in  Home  Rule.  Others,  while 
not  conceahng  from  themselves  the  tremendous  mischiefs  that 
follow,  think  that  they  are  now  inevitable  and  silently  support 
what  they  cannot  prevent ;  some  catch  up  Home  Rule  as  they 
would  catch  up  anything  Gladstone  proposes  and  they  think 
will  win. 

The  Italian  tour  was  prolonged  by  his  wife's  illness  in 
Rome,  and  the  travellers  only  reached  home  on  December  lo. 
At  this  moment  the  political  world  was  thrown  into  confusion 
by  the  capricious  resignation  of  the  Chancellor  of  the 



December  23. — I  was  packing  up  to  go  down  to  Bournemouth 
to  spend  Christmas  Day  with  Father  when  Leonard  came  running 
upstairs  calUng  out  "  Kitty !  Kitty  !  "  in  great  excitement. 
"  Well,  what  is  it  ?  "  "  Resignation  of  Lord  Randolph  Churchill." 
It  came  like  a  thunderclap  on  most  people,  and  it  was  said  even 
the  Cabinet  had  no  idea  of  it.  We  found  Father  very  eager  about 
it  and  full  of  hopes  that  Lord  Hartington  would  join  Lord 
Salisbury's  Government,  as  it  is  said  he  has  been  invited  to  do. 
L.  shakes  his  wise  head  over  the  affair,  thinking  that  another 
blow  has  been  given  to  the  Union.  There  was  a  great  storm 
ending  in  snow  the  day  after  Christmas  Day,  which  broke  all  the 
telegraph  wires  between  us  and  the  Continent,  so  it  was  unknown 
for  some  days  where  Lord  Hartington  was,  and  as  all  eyes  appear 
to  have  turned  to  him,  there  was  great  suspense  in  political  circles. 
Then  came  Mr.  Chamberlain's  speech  in  Birmingham,  offering  the 
olive  branch  to  the  Gladstonians  and  suggesting  Liberal  reunion. 
Before  leaving  town  we  had  dined  with  the  Morleys,  and  Mr. 
Morley  mentioned  incidentallythat  hehad  hada  very  friendly  letter 
from  Chamberlain,  the  first  for  nearly  a  year.  He  added,  "  Mind, 
whatever  you  hear  about  other  people,  I  shall  stand  firm  to  my 
guns,"  which  we  took  to  mean  that  he  would  not  accept  any 
modification  of  his  Home  Rule  policy. 

On  returning  to  London  after  Christmas  Courtney  found 
a  melancholy  letter  from  Goschen,  who  was  at  the  moment 
without  a  seat. 

From  G.  J.  Goschen 

December  27,  1886. — How  will  the  Unionists  stand  in  the 
course  of  a  week  or  two  ?  and  what  will  be  the  effect  of  Cham- 
berlain's overtures,  as  I  read  them,  to  the  Gladstonians  ? 
Churchill's  resignation,  followed  by  Chamberlain's  speech,  seems 
to  me  to  deal  a  heavy  blow  at  the  Union  which  it  will  be  extremely 
difficult  to  parry.  I  have  no  idea  what  Hartington's  course 
will  be. 

Lord  Hartington  arrived  from  Rome  on  December  28, 
and  two  days  later  he  summoned  his  friends  to  Devonshire 
House,  where  Courtney  argued  that  if  the  Liberal  Unionists 
joined  the  Government  the  remainder  of  the  Liberal  party 
would  be  irrevocably  identified  with  Home  Rule. 

272  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

To  Arthur  Elliot 

December  31,  1886. — I  had  a  long  talk  with  Hartington 
yesterday  and  saw  him  again  this  morning.  He  saw  Lord  SaUs- 
bury  this  afternoon,  when  the  crisis  will  probably  be  settled  as 
far  as  we  are  concerned.  The  Tory  rank  and  file  kick,  and 
Akers-Douglas  says  he  could  not  whip  up  the  men  for  Hartington. 
This  may  be  somewhat  exaggerated,  or  it  may  be  said  in  Ran- 
dolph's influence ;  but  it  is  enough  to  prevent  a  Coalition.  I 
remain  as  in  July  against  a  Coahtion.  If  the  Government  can 
possibly  scramble  on,  they  must,  the  Liberal  Unionists  giving 
them  outside  assistance.  If  they  cannot — a  thing  to  be  proved — 
Hartington  may  be  asked  by  the  Queen  to  form  a  Government 
and  he  might  then  essay  a  combination,  but  not  till  the  extremity 
has  arrived.  For  I  look  upon  this  as  our  last  Hne  of  defence. 
Whilst  we  are  aloof  we  do  keep  the  Liberal  party  from  organising 
as  a  Home  Rule  party ;  but  if  the  Liberal  Unionists  and  the 
Conservatives  join  in  a  Government  the  Liberals  throughout  the 
country  would  shake  themselves  together.  There  would  be  only 
two  parties,  and  the  Liberals  would  some  day  return  to  power  as 
unchecked  Home  Rulers.  It  is  with  this  view  that  the  Grand 
Old  Man  would  (I  have  reason  to  know)  like  Hartington  to  form 
a  Government  so  as  to  clear  the  Unes  of  division  and  simplify  the 
situation,  and  it  is  this  view  that  I  am  against,  as  I  think  most 
of  our  friends  are.  I  do  not  conceal  from  myself  that  the  neces- 
sity for  a  Coahtion  may  arise.  Sahsbury's  cry  to  Hartington  has 
made  the  Government  weaker  than  it  need  have  been,  and  the 
mind  staggers  at  the  prospect  of  W.  H.  Smith  leading  the  House  ; 
but  this  dire  necessity — ^the  uttermost — ^is  not  yet.^  Randolph 
may  go  back  :  he  is  convinced,  I  am  told,  he  has  made  a  great 
mistake ;  or  without  going  back  he  may  try  not  to  be  nasty. 
Hartington  himself  is  perhaps  (or  was  perhaps)  less  averse  to 
Union  than  some  others.     The  ways  of  our  Joseph  are  dark. 

The  atmosphere  was  charged  with  electricity,  and 
Courtney  possessed  the  advantage  of  being  in  touch  with 
both  sections  of  the  Liberal  party. 


December  31.  —  We  dined  with  the  Morleys,  meeting  Sir 
W.  Harcourt,  who  was  in  great  spirits  and  full  of  chaff.     He 

1  Courtney  afterwards  learned  to  value  the  solid  qualities  and  business 
capacity  of  the  new  Leader. 


asked  L.  what  office  he  had  accepted  from  Lord  Salisbury,  adding 
that  he  could  tell  by  the  "  about-to-save-his-country  "  expression 
of  his  countenance  that  he  had  joined. 

The  crisis  was  quickly  solved  by  the  appointment  of 
Goschen  as  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  and  of  W.  H. 
Smith  as  Leader  of  the  House.  But  a  feeling  of  insecur- 
ity remained,  and  the  alliance  between  Conservatives  and 
Unionists  was  too  recent  for  either  wing  to  feel  complete 
confidence  in  the  other. 

To  John  Scott 

January  3,  1887. — We  got  back  on  the  nth  December.  I 
saw  Randolph  Churchill  about  Procedure  and  some  other  matters 
he  proposed  to  take  up  in  the  coming  session,  and  he  appeared  to 
have  settled  down  to  hard  work  in  harness.  I  was  as  much 
surprised  as  the  rest  of  the  world  when  he  resigned.  The  true 
reading  of  this  transaction  seems  to  be  that  he  has  overreached 
himself  ;  he  offered  resignation  as  the  alternative  to  getting  his 
terms,  making  sure  that  he  would  get  them  ;  and  to  his  astonish- 
ment he  did  not.  It  is  added  he  is  much  disgusted  at  being  out. 
As  to  the  motive  of  his  disagreement  with  his  colleagues  he  is 
trying  to  put  the  best  face  on  it,  and  I  fancy  that  on  most  of  the 
questions  of  difference  he  has  taken  the  right  side,  not  so  much 
because  it  was  right  as  because  he  thought  it  would  win — his 
game  being  always  to  win  and  to  win  quickly.  If  he  has  tried 
to  keep  in  by  following  good  counsels  and  by  impressing  good 
counsels  on  his  colleagues,  he  got  in  by  appealing  to  every  vulgar 
prejudice  and  densest  ignorance  against  good  counsels.  The 
effect  of  his  going  out  may,  however,  be  very  serious. 

January  5. — Goschen  has  joined  the  Government.  This  is 
the  first  effect  of  Randolph's  resignation,  and  though  he  has 
joined  as  a  Liberal  Unionist  it  is  almost  inevitable  that  he  should 
slip  into  being  a  Conservative.  It  is  said  he  has  joined  under 
Hartington's  pressure  or  command  ;  perhaps  it  would  be  more 
correct  to  say  with  Hartington's  concurrence.  One  dominant 
consideration  was  that  it  was  almost  impossible  to  find  him  a 
seat  anywhere.  Another  effect  that  may,  I  think,  be  traced  to 
Randolph's  resignation  is  a  very  dubious  attempt  on  Chamber- 
lain's part  to  effect  a  compromise  with  the  Gladstonians.  This 
ought  to  fail  because  I  do  not  believe  Gladstone  will  budge  an 
inch  from  his  position,  and  reconciliation  would  therefore  mean 
complete  surrender  on  Joe's  part,  which  would  be  so  unlike  him 
as  to  be  almost  incredible.     But  he  may  knock  under  rather  than 


274  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

be  out  in  the  cold  indefinitely.  I  don't  like  this  coquetting  as 
I  object  to  Hartington's  joining  the  Conservatives,  because  I 
deprecate  above  all  things  our  public  men  settling  into  two  and 
only  two  parties,  so  that  Liberalism  shall  mean  Home  Rule  and 
Anti-Home  Rule  shall  mean  Conservatism.  If  that  came  to  pass. 
Home  Rule  would  soon  be  passed.  I  am  not  sanguine  in  any  case 
about  being  able  to  prevent  it  permanently.  Gladstone  has  made 
it  terribly  hard,  and  the  strain  upon  public  virtue  is  excessive. 
Not  every  man  will  go  on  fighting  a  battle  he  knows  to  be  lost, 
and  accepting  defeat  with  a  consciousness  it  means  annihilation. 
You  will  be  glad  to  know  that  Dicey  is  doing  good  work  in  the 
controversy.  I  see  the  contagion  of  Home  Rule  is  extending  to 
India  as  we  knew  it  must.  How  you  on  the  spot  must  groan 
over  the  premature  encouragement  to  foolhardiness.  I  don't 
fancy  this  trouble  will  become  serious  in  our  time  ;  but  the 
working-man  voter  with  his  large  generosity  when  he  has  no 
interest  would  think  no  more  of  giving  up  India  than  of  giving 
up  Ireland,  not  caring  to  inquire  seriously  what  would  be  the  fate 
of  either  when  abandoned.  You  will  hke  to  know  that  amid  all 
political  vicissitudes  John  Morley  and  I  remain  as  close  friends 
as  ever. 

On  the  day  that  Churchill's  resignation  was  announced 
Chamberlain  had  delivered  a  speech  at  Birmingham  which 
led  Harcourt  to  propose  a  friendly  discussion  between 
Liberal  Unionists  and  Home  Rulers.  The  five  chiefs  met 
at  Harcourt's  house,  and  for  a  time  the  discussions  pro- 
ceeded harmoniously ;  but  the  negotiations  were  broken 
off  by  Chamberlain,  who  was  stung  by  outside  attacks 
into  an  outburst  against  "  disloyal  "  Irishmen.  The  only 
concrete  result  of  the  meetings  was  to  shake  the  faith  of  Sir 
George  Trevelyan. 


Sir  George  is  apparently  seized  with  such  a  passion  for 
Liberal  Reunion  that  he  talks  about  the  differences  that  separate 
the  Gladstonians  and  Liberal  Unionists  being  purely  imaginary. 
One  would  hke  to  know  how  the  situation  has  changed  since  he 
left  Mr.  Gladstone  last  year.  The  secrets  of  the  Round  Table 
must  be  well  kept  if  there  is  so  much  change  as  all  that  in  the 
views  held  by  the  guests.  We  are  rather  nervous  about  what  he 
will  say  at  Liskeard  at  our  demonstration.  Will  he  be  a  second 
Balaam  ? 


Sir  George's  speech  at  Liskeard  gave  evidence  of  the 
coming  change  ;  but  the  balance  was  redressed  by  a  full- 
blooded  Unionist  oration  from  W.  S.  Caine,  who  httle 
suspected  that  he  too  was  destined  to  re-enter  the 
Gladstonian  fold.  The  real  hero  of  the  occasion  was  the 
sitting  Member,  who  dealt  with  the  division  within  the 
Liberal  party.  "  I  do  not  expect  reunion,"  he  declared, 
"  but  I  wiU  do  nothing  to  stop  it.  It  is  for  the  Home 
Rulers  to  return  to  us,  for  it  is  they  who  have  gone  astray." 
"  It  is  a  pleasure  in  this  flabby  generation,"  commented  the 
Spectator,  "  to  read  such  words.  We  have  sometimes 
thought  and  occasionally  said  that  Mr.  Courtney  was  too 
confident  in  his  own  judgment ;  but  there  are  times  when 
that  capacity  for  being  certain  is  the  necessary  condition 
of  resolution  to  do  one's  duty.  It  is  manliness,  not  without 
its  touch  of  stubborn  defiance,  that  Unionists  now  require." 

At  the  opening  of  the  session  of  1887  the  Government 
announced  the  renewal  of  coercion  ;  but  before  introducing 
the  Crimes  Bill,  they  proposed  and  carried  a  new  Standing 
Order  providing  that  debate  might  be  closured  with  the 
approval  of  the  Chair  and  the  support  of  two  hundred 
Members.  As  he  had  been  in  consultation  with  Ministers 
on  the  subject,  Courtney  stepped  down  from  his  pedestal 
and  gave  his  blessing  to  the  change.  The  new  weapon 
was  employed  to  carry  the  First  Reading  of  the  Bill.  A  day 
or  two  later  the  Speaker  fell  ill,  and  the  Chairman  took  his 
place  during  the  long  and  stormy  debates  on  the  Second 
Reading.  The  House  sat  late,  and  the  Deputy-Speaker 
often  arrived  home  at  three,  four  or  five  in  the  morning. 
It  was  a  period  of  great  physical  and  mental  strain  ;  but 
Members  were  glad  to  feel  a  strong  hand  on  the  reins.  He 
was  on  friendly  terms  alike  with  Conservatives,  Liberal 
Unionists  and  Home  Rulers,  and  men  who  fought  each 
other  at  St.  Stephen's  fraternised  in  the  mellowing  atmo- 
sphere of  Cheyne  Walk. 


We  have  a  very  interesting  party  consisting  of  Mr.  Arthur 
Balfour,  Mr.  John  Morley,  Mr.  Russell  of  the  Liverpool  Post 

276  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

(afterwards  Sir  Edward  Russell),  Mrs.  Fawcett,  and  Beatrice. 
They  all  stay  till  nearly  twelve,  and  the  talk  is  deUghtful.  Mr. 
Balfour  and  Mr.  Morley  get  on  famously  and  agree  about  much, 
especially  in  their  comic  descriptions  of  their  respective  front 
benches.  Mr.  Morley  is  full  of  stories  about  the  Grand  Old  Man, 
and  describes  how  both  he  and  Harcourt  think  the  other  speaks 
too  often.  Mr.  Balfour  seems  to  have  quite  a  liking  for  some  of 
the  Irish,  especially  Dillon. 

Before  adjourning  for  the  Whitsun  recess  the  Chairman 
of  Committees,  accompanied  by  W.  H.  Smith,  Gladstone 
and  Hartington,  followed  the  Speaker  in  procession  from 
the  Palace  of  Westminster  to  St.  Margaret's,  where  Bishop 
Boyd  Carpenter  preached  the  Jubilee  sermon.  He  again 
walked  in  procession  with  the  Speaker  to  the  Jubilee  service 
in  the  Abbey  on  June  21,  and  sat  between  him  and  Gladstone 
close  to  the  Sovereign  ;  and  on  the  following  day  the  distin- 
guished guests  of  the  nation  assembled  at  the  most  brilliant 
reception  the  Foreign  Office  had  ever  witnessed.  A  week 
later  the  Queen  gave  a  garden  party  at  Buckingham  Palace. 


The  Queen  walked  round  through  a  long  deep  lane  of  her 
guests,  leaning  on  a  stick  and  bowing  continually  in  answer  to 
their  salutations, — a  sort  of  half  bow  half  curtsey  she  makes  in 
a  very  old-fashioned-looking  style.  When  she  came  opposite  us 
Lord  Mount  Edgecumbe  pointed  out  Leonard  as  the  Chairman 
of  Committees,  when,  to  our  astonishment,  she  hobbled  up  and, 
very  deliberately  making  a  curtsey  opposite  him,  said,  "  You 
work  very  hard,  Mr.  Courtney,"  which  I  thought  very  nice  of 

The  review  of  the  fleet  closed  the  official  ceremonies ; 
but  people  were  in  the  mood  for  entertaining,  and  the 
Chairman  spent  week-ends  with  the  Farrers  at  Abinger, 
the  Lubbocks  at  High  Elms  and  the  Grant  Duffs  at  Twicken- 
ham. While,  however,  the  British  Empire  was  junketing, 
Ireland  was  suffering  and  sulking,  and  Parliament  was 
busily  occupied  with  the  Crimes  Bill. 



July. — Leonard  has  stormy  times  and  long  hours  in  the  Chair  ; 
but  he  keeps  wonderfully  well.  He  has  become  an  extraordinary 
favourite  with  the  Irish  members,  who  treat  his  ruUngs  with  the 
utmost  respect  and  show  their  liking  for  him  in  many  ways, — one 
a  very  odd  incident  when  they  claimed  on  the  Estimates  that  he 
should  have  a  house  provided  at  Westminster  instead  of  "  trudg- 
ing home  in  the  early  morning  to  Chelsea."  There  are  several 
shindies.  Once  Mr.  Healy  ife  suspended  for  offering  to  wring 
De  Lisle's  neck  just  behind  the  Chair  ;  but  still  he  bears  Leohard 
no  malice.  Another  time  he  again  behaves  outrageously  in 
threatening  to  throw  slops  in  Mr.  Balfour's  face  if  he  ever  had 
to  empty  them  in  prison.  Leonard  also  intervenes  several  times 
in  debate  to  propose  some  way  of  getting  through  business  in 
words  of  a  moderating  character. 

The  session  dragged  on  throughout  August  and  the  first 
half  of  September,  and  ended  with  an  explosion  on  the 
fracas  at  Michelstown,  which  supplied  the  text  for  innumer- 
able Home  Rule  orations  and  perorations  during  the  autumn 
recess.  October  was  dedicated  to  his  constituents,  who 
were  informed  that  their  member  fully  approved  both  the 
Crimes  Act  and  the  closure  by  which  it  was  carried.  The 
Act,  he  explained,  was  merely  a  new  machinery  for  punishing 
what  was  already  punishable  ;  and  since  local  juries  were 
too  timid  to  convict,  there  was  no  alternative  to  the  Govern- 
ment plan.  The  outlook  as  a  whole,  however,  was  by  no 
means  promising.  The  results  of  judicial  rents  were  dis- 
appointing, and  he  had  no  great  belief  in  the  newer  policy 
of  land  purchase.  The  most  urgent  need  of  the  time  was 
the  reform  of  county  government,  with  the  provision  for 
the  representation  of  minorities.  Early  in  November,  his 
duty  done,  Courtney  left  London  for  a  tour  in  Sicily.  Before 
starting,  however,  he  sent  an  urgent  warning  and  exhortation 
to  the  Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer,  then  deeply  engaged 
on  the  Bill  which  was  to  be  the  principal  measure  of  1888. 

To  G.  J.  Goschen 

November  4. — I  am  off  for  Sicily  in  the  morning,  but  I  am 
moved  to  send  you  before  I  go  a  word  about  Local  Government, 

278  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

especially  in  England.  How  do  you  mean  to  secure  representa- 
tion— a  voice — the  power  of  argument  and  remonstrance  to 
minorities  ?  This  is  more  important  than  ever  in  Local  Govern- 
ment. The  right  administration  of  the  Poor  Law  never  can  be 
popular.  Some  guarantees  that  your  local  bodies  shall  contain- 
representatives  of  all  sections  who  shall  not  always  be  in  peril  of 
dismissal  are  essential.  Single-membered  seats  will  not  secure 
this.  Pray  realise  from  the  history  of  Gladstone's  Home  Rule 
campaign  how  inferior  are  the  defences  of  single  seats  in  securing 
the  representation  of  independent  judgment.  Under  a  system 
of  representation  of  minorities  there  would  have  been  Home 
Rulers  returned  in  Great  Britain  before  Gladstone  raised  the  cry  ; 
but  he  would  not  have  been  able  to  carry  with  him  that  great 
array  of  waverers,  who,  knowing  all  was  lost  unless  they  followed 
him,  consented  to  adopt  his  policy  though  detesting  it.  Now 
I  do  pray  that  we  do  not  in  a  happy-go-lucky  blind  way  repeat 
this  terrible  error  in  new  schemes  of  Local  Government.  All 
the  best  Conservative— in  the  best  sense — elements  of  EngUsh 
society  are  here  in  peril ;  all  the  slowly  won  principles  of  Poor 
Law  administration  in  jeopardy.  You  cannot  rely  on  ex  officio 
seats  nor  on  plural  voting.  They  are  both  in  violent  antagonism 
to  the  dominant  ideas  of  the  present  ParHamentary  electorate 
with  whom  the  decision  must  be.  A  democratic  system  without 
the  infusion  of  privilege  is  inevitable.  But  the  representation  of 
all  minorities  is  a  thoroughly  democratic  idea.  Bradlaugh  is  as 
strongly  in  favour  of  it  as  Lord  Salisbury  can  be.  Of  Mill  and 
Fawcett  I  need  not  speak,  but  I  can  say  that  democratic  audiences 
in  all  the  big  towns  have  accepted  it.  Try  either  the  cumulative 
vote  of  the  School  Board  or  the  Single  Transferable  vote,  or  any 
other  plan  you  like. 

The  session  of  1888  opened  quietly,  new  rules  of  pro- 
cedure, in  the  framing  of  which  Courtney  had  been  consulted, 
being  carried  without  difficulty.  Ritchie's  Local  Govern- 
ment Bill  met  with  general  approval  and  astonished  Liberals 
by  its  far-reaching  provisions.  Nobody  except  its  author 
was  more  interested  in  its  character  or  fate  than  the  Chair- 
man of  Committees,^  who  welcomed  another  opportunity 
of  urging  proportional  representation  and  who  joined  Sir 

1  "  One  of  his  monumental  achievements  in  the  Chair,"  wrote  Mr.  Lucy 
(now  Sir  Henry),  "  was  the  smooth,  business-hke  passage  of  the  Local 
Government  Bill.  Except  the  Minister  in  charge  he  was  probably  the 
only  man  who  thoroughly  grasped  the  hourly  changing  aspect  of  this 
stupendous  measure." — Cornish  Magazine,  Sept.  1898. 


John  Lubbock  in  arranging  a  test  election  in  the  House. 
He  had  advocated  the  reform  of  county  administration  for 
many  years,  and  he  deHvered  his  first  important  speech  in 
the  Salisbury  Parliament  on  the  Second  Reading. 


April  16. — Go  to  House  to  hear  L.'s  speech.  Most  earnest 
and  eloquent,  one  of  the  best  he  has  ever  made.  A  plea  for 
Proportional  Representation  in  county  elections.  He  made  an 
evident  impression,  uphill  work  as  the  subject  is,  for  men's  eyes 
seem  blind.  Mr.  Chamberlain  followed  with  a  speech  full  of 
shallow  sneers, — a  great  dramatic  contrast  which  was  also  felt. 
Lord  Hartington  and  W.  H.  Smith  both  speak  to  Leonard  about 
his  speech  and  express  a  wish  that  his  system  might  be  tried  ; 
but  I  fear  they  will  hardly  have  the  courage  to  do  it  without 
more  pressure  than  the  present  state  of  public  opinion  will  give. 

Accepting  the  Bill  as  an  excellent  beginning,  he  pro- 
phesied that  the  County  Councils  would  gradually  assume 
further  responsibilities,  such  as  the  control  of  education 
and  the  Poor  Law.  Their  financial  powers  also  seemed 
to  him  too  circumscribed.  But  the  great  blot  on  the 
measure  was  the  absence  of  proportional  representation, 
which  was  essential  in  local  no  less  than  in  national  elections, 
and  only  less  needed  in  England  than  in  Ireland.  The 
speech  impressed  every  one  who  heard  it  and  drew  cheers 
from  the  Strangers'  GaUery.  "  I  have  never  heard  a  long 
debate,"  wrote  Sir  Richard  Temple,  "  in  which  the  speakers 
were  so  uniformly  competent.  Mr.  Courtney  criticised  the 
electoral  portions  of  the  scheme,  and  urged  with  impas- 
sioned earnestness  the  principle  of  which  he  had  been  an 
enlightened  advocate.  As  an  oratorical  effort  this  was  the 
best  of  the  many  good  speeches  made  in  the  debate."  ^ 
Mrs.  Courtney  sent  a  copy  of  the  speech  to  the  ^American 
Ambassador,  James  Russell  Lowell,  who  was  not  less 
interested  in  questions  of  political  machinery  than  in 
Uterature,  and  who  replied  that  he  always  read  Mr.  Court- 
ney's speeches  because  they  were  addressed  to  the  reason 
of  his  hearers. 

1  Life  in  Parliament,  i886-i8gy,  pp.  192-3. 

28o  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

The  Whitsun  holiday  of  1888  was  spent  in  Holland  and 
Belgium.  At  a  stall  at  a  fair  in  Dort  the  travellers  picked 
up  a  Dutch  version  of  Aurora  Leigh  in  white  vellum,  and  on 
their  return  presented  it  to  Browning,  who  was  unaware 
of  the  existence  of  the  translation. 

From  Robert  Browning  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

June  15. — Your  most  kind  and  greatly  valued  present  was 
received  with  so  much  surprise  as  well  as  gratitude  that  I  thought 
of  examining  it  a  Httle  more  leisurely  than  I  have  been  able  to 
do  before  reporting  about  it  to  the  generous  donors.  That  may 
come  after,  however,  and  I  will  say  at  once  how  thankful  I  am 
for  your  kindness.  It  happens  curiously  that  the  day  which 
brought  me  your  present  brought  also  a  French  (MSS.)  trans- 
lation of  the  same  poem. 

Though  the  session  of  1888  remains  memorable  for 
the  creation  of  County  Councils,  far  greater  interest  was 
aroused  at  the  moment  by  the  fierce  battle  between  Pamell 
and  the  Times.  The  publication  on  April  18, 1887,  of  a  letter 
virtually  approving  the  Phoenix  Park  murders  signed  by  the 
Irish  leader  had  provoked  an  instant  repudiation  of  the 
"  villainous  and  barefaced  forgery."  The  great  journal 
refused  to  withdraw  and  in  the  following  year  produced 
some  more  letters  of  a  similar  character,  which  were  in  turn 
indignantly  repudiated.  Pamell  desired  that  the  question 
should  be  referred  to  a  Committee  of  the  House  from  which 
Irish  members  should  be  excluded.  The  Government, 
however,  decided  to  appoint  a  special  Commission  of  three 
Judges  to  investigate  not  only  the  authenticity  of  the  letters 
but  the  charges  and  allegations  against  Pamell  and  his 
colleagues  made  by  the  Times  in  its  articles  entitled  "  Par- 
neUism  and  Crime."  In  other  words,  a  Unionist  tribunal 
was  nominated  by  the  Government  to  pronounce  judgement 
on  a  great  pohtical  movement,  and  the  Attorney-General 
appeared  for  the  Times.  The  passing  of  the  Act — with  the 
aid  of  the  closure — creating  the  Court  led  to  repeated 
"  scenes,"  which  required  all  the  tact  of  the  Speaker  and 
the  Chairman  of  Committees  to  keep  within  bounds.     The 


value  of  Courtney's  services  wera  generally  recognised,  and 
the  faithful  Gladstonian,  Stuart  Rendel,  described  his  im- 
partiality as  the  one  bright  feature  of  the  session. 


One  of  the  most  furious  debates  is  over  the  Royal  Commission 
to  inquire  into  the  charges  in  the  Times.  A  special  scene  between 
Parnell  and  Chamberiain.  In  the  midst  of  it  all  we  have  a  small 
dinner,  asked  before  the  row,  which  gives  us  some  anxiety. 
Mr.  Chamberiain,  Mr.  Balfour,  Mr.  Buckle,  a  Gladstonian  M.P. — 
Mr.  Munro-Ferguson,  and  the  Hobhouses.  We  get  on  very  well. 
Mr.  Chamberiain  rather  attacking  Leonard  as  usual.  "  Courtney, 
I  want  to  ask  you  a  question.  If  I  fired  a  revolver  across  the 
floor  of  the  House,  what  would  you  do  ?  "  "  My  dear  Cham- 
berlain, it  would  not  be  across  the  floor  of  the  House  that  you 
would  fire,"  says  Mr.  Balfour.  "  No,  the  ball  would  glance," 
was  the  reply. 

On  his  usual  autumn  visit  to  his  constituents  Courtney 
naturally  devoted  his  main  attention  to  Ireland.  The 
Crimes  Act  of  1887,  he  declared,  had  worked  well,  and  the 
country  was  more  orderly  ;  but  policeman's  work  was  never 
enough,  and  County  Councils  should  be  created  as  soon  as 
possible  on  the  new  English  model.  The  Parnell  letters 
were  discussed  with  a  cool  detachment  rare  among  Unionist 
orators.  The  Irish  leader  should  have  gone  to  the  Courts 
directly  the  letters  appeared,  and  the  creation  of  a  Special 
Commission  was  equally  a  mistake.  The  Government  should 
have  left  the  matter  to  the  ordinary  processes  of  law,  and  not 
have  taken  sides.  But  Parliament  had  lost  its  head.  "  The 
scenes  in  the  debates  on  the  Bill  were  most  painful  and  most 
prejudicial  to  the  authority  of  the  House."  The  importance 
of  the  letters  had  been  enormously  exaggerated.  If  the  most 
celebrated  letter  was  genuine  he  should  not  think  much  the 
worse  of  the  writer.  "  A  man  might  write  such  a  letter 
without  in  the  least  being  accused  of  compUcity  in  or  appro- 
bation of  murder."  If  Parnell  was  proved  to  be  its  author, 
his  character  for  veracity  would  be  gone  and  he  would  be 
ruined  ;  but  the  question,  however  it  was  answered,  had  no 
bearing  on  the  merits  or  demerits  of  Home  Rule, 

282  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

The  State  Trial  opened  on  October  22,  A  long  array  of 
witnesses  told  of  riots,  outrages  and  murder ;  but  nothing 
was  revealed  that  was  not  already  known  to  students  of  the 
Irish  problem.  When  the  letters  were  reached  in  February 
the  exposure  of  Pigott  and  the  flight  and  suicide  of  the 
forger  blunted  the  effect  of  less  dramatic  revelations.  The 
Report  of  the  Special  Commission  was  ready  on  February  13, 
1889.  "  There  was  a  scene  of  wondrous  excitement," 
relates  Justin  M'Carthy,  "  when  the  first  bundles  of  the 
Report  reached  the  House.  Members  were  too  impatient 
to  wait  for  their  distribution.  The  bundles  were  simply 
flung  upon  the  floor  in  the  inner  lobby  and  were  scrambled 
for  by  the  Members."  ^  The  Judges  found  that  the  Irish 
Members  were  not  collectively  engaged  in  a  conspiracy  for 
independence,  but  that  certain  Nationahsts  inside  and  out- 
side Parhament  desired  separation.  None  of  the  defendants 
had  paid  people  to  commit  crime,  but  some  of  them  had 
excited  to  intimidation.  The  letters  attributed  to  Pamell 
were  forgeries.  The  Report  was  a  virtual  acquittal,  and 
when  the  Irish  leader  walked  to  his  seat  the  House  broke 
into  loud  acclamations.  While  zealous  but  unwary  Unionists, 
headed  by  the  Prime  Minister,  had  greedily  swallowed  the 
charges  against  Parnell  and  had  pressed  them  into  the 
campaign  against  Home  Rule,  the  Chairman  of  Committees 
had  nothing  to  recant.  But  the  discomfiture  of  the  Times 
struck  a  damaging  blow  at  the  Unionist  cause  and  filled  Home 
Rulers  with  new  hope.  Courtney  had  never  felt  very  con- 
fident of  the  ultimate  victory  of  the  Union,  but  the  un- 
certainty made  no  difference  in  his  action. 

To  Sir  W.  Trelawny 
{Chairman  of  the  L.U.  Association  in  S.E.  Cornwall) 

No  one  wiU  dissent  from  your  opinion  that  the  present  position 
of  Liberal  Unionists  is  one  we  would  not  wish  if  we  could  help  it. 
The  only  question  is  whether  it  is  not  an  unpleasant  necessity. 
At  the  same  time  it  is  not  without  some  compensations.  The 
Conservatives  have  been  drawn  and  are  daily  being  drawn  to 
promote  measures  they  do  not  naturally  like,  and  we  are  able  to 
^  History  of  Our  Own  Times,  i88o-i8gy,  p.  270. 


strengthen  all  that  is  progressive  amongst  them  and  to  neutralise 
all  that  is  reactionary.  So  far  there  is  a  distinct  public  gain,  and 
without  any  compromise  of  our  own  views  and  opinions.  The 
time  may  come  when  we  shall  be  unable  to  turn  the  balance  and 
we  may  have  to  reconsider  our  situation,  but  that  time  is  not  yet. 
On  the  other  hand  I  can  see  no  sign  of  Mr.  Gladstone  retreating 
from  the  position  which  made  us  withdraw  from  him  in  1886. 

It  was  hardly  to  be  expected  that  the  Government's 
motion  to  thank  the  Commissioners  for  their  labours  would 
satisfy  the  House  as  a  whole  ;  and  the  Leader  of  the  Opposi- 
tion moved  an  amendment  asking  the  House  to  protest 
against  the  wrong,  suffering  and  loss  endured  by  the  victims 
of  calumny.  A  more  explicit  condemnation  of  the  Times 
for  publishing  forged  letters  was  placed  on  the  paper  by 
Louis  Jennings,  the  faithful  henchman  of  Randolph  Churchill. 
For  this  amendment  Courtney  intended  to  speak  and  to  vote. 
Indeed  he  had  almost  made  up  his  mind  to  move  such  an 
amendment  himself,  hoping  the  Government  might  accept 
it  from  a  friend,  but  he  was  dissuaded  by  Lord  Derby. 
Before  Jennings  could  speak  Churchill  took  the  wind  out  of 
his  sails  with  a  vigorous  condemnation  of  the  Government; 
and  Jennings,  though  deUvering  his  own  speech  of  censure, 
refused  to  move  his  amendment  in  disgust  at  his  leader's 
action.  It  was  thereupon  moved  by  Caine,  and  supported 
by  Courtney  alone  of  Liberal  Unionists.  Two  Conservatives 
joined  him  in  the  Lobby,  while  several  abstained,  and  the 
majority  fell  to  forty.  Lord  Curzon  later  told  Mrs.  Courtney 
that  half  the  Conservatives  were  in  favour  of  some  such 
amendment,  and  expressed  his  opinion  that  if  the  Chairman 
of  Committees  had  moved  it  they  would  have  voted  with 
him.  "  My  vote  expressed  the  views  of  many  who  did  not 
vote  with  me,"  declared  Courtney  to  his  constituents,  "  and 
I  was  strengthening  the  Unionist  cause  by  helping  to  free  it 
from  the  suspicion  of  partiality  and  injustice."  But  while 
repeating  his  condemnation  of  the  reckless  creduUty  of  the 
Times,  he  added,  "  I  know  Mr.  Walter  weU,  and  there  is  no 
man  of  more  unimpeachable  honour." 

During  the  Easter  recess  the  Chairman  reviewed  the  open- 
ing weeks  of  the  session  with  less  reserve  in  a  private  letter. 

284  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

To  John  Scott 

April  3,  1890. — We  have  had  a  short  time  up  to  Easter  and 
have  really  done  as  much  in  it  as  could  fairly  be  expected.  Supply 
is  further  on  than  usual  and  several  bills  have  been  read  a  second 
time.  We  have  indeed  abundance  of  work  before  us.  Balfour's 
Land  Bill  will  occupy  a  long  time  and  the  Tithe  Bill  is  not  a 
trifle ;  but  the  prospects  are  not  bad.  Even  the  India  Council  Bill 
may  be  put  through  in  spite  of  having  to  wait  upon  matters  which 
may  be  of  less  importance  but  in  which  the  British  public  is  more 
interested  ;  that  will  depend  very  much  upon  Bradlaugh.  If  he 
wants  to  have  it  passed  he  can  probably  hmit  the  talk  over  it  so 
as  to  get  this  done,  and  I  daresay  he  would  be  satisfied  with  it  as 
an  instalment.  But  his  health  and  energy  are  not  what  they 
were.  This  may  also  be  said  of  the  present  Parliament  or  at  least 
of  the  opposition  within  it.  The  persistent  fighting  mood  has 
disappeared.  It  is  not  dead  but  it  is  dormant.  Business  is 
pretty  brisk  up  and  down  the  country.  Ireland  itself  is  a  little 
quieter.  Except  as  regards  bye-elections  the  storm  of  battle  is 
adjourned.  Many  are  ready  to  interpret  this  lull  as  the  calm 
before  an  immediate  dissolution,  and  I  don't  look  upon  a  dis- 
solution in  July  as  an  impossible  contingency.  No  one  can 
venture  to  predict  what  the  result  of  a  General  Election  would 
be.  Bradlaugh  was  doubtless  right  when  he  told  you  the  Liberal 
Unionists  would  be  squeezed  out.  The  sitting  members  who 
stand  again  may  have  good  chances,  but  it  is  very  hard  for 
new-comers.  To  return  to  the  temper  of  the  House  it  is  a  curious 
illustration  of  it  how  little  we  have  missed  .Hartington.  His 
continued  absence  would  be  an  enormous  peril  and  I  was  anxious 
as  to  what  might  happen  in  these  few  weeks  before  Easter  ;  but 
no  occasion  for  his  intervention  has  arisen.  The  only  difficulty 
was  during  a  very  brief  hour  over  the  Commission  Report,  and 
that  passed  off  as  quickly  as  it  came. 

While  Courtney's  official  position  debarred  him  from  an 
active  share  in  party  politics,  it  left  him  free  to  expound 
his  views  on  social  and  economic  problems  in  other  quarters. 
His  distrust  of  State  socialism  and  of  short  cuts  to  prosperity 
increased  with  their  vogue,  for  he  was  anchored  to  the 
principles  of  self-help  in  which  he  had  been  reared.  At  the 
annual  meeting  of  the  Charity  Organisation  Society  he  gave 
utterance  to  the  "  few  sturdy  words  "  for  which  Mr.  Loch 
had  asked.     The  people,  he  declared,  should  be  taught  that 


the  remedy  for  most  of  the  evils  from  which  they  suffered 
was  in  their  own  hands  ;  and  he  never  lost  an  opportunity 
of  preaching  this  unpopular  gospel  to  the  adherents  of  a 
softer  faith. 

To  a  Correspondent 

February  10,  1887. — I  am  obliged  to  you  for  sending  me  a 
copy  of  "  The  Acres  and  the  Hands."  I  am  always  disposed  to 
demur  to  anything  that  may  betray  hasty  readers  to  think  that 
a  permanent  radical  change  in  the  condition  of  the  people  can  be 
made  by  a  change  of  laws  without  a  change  of  character.  You 
might  aboUsh  entail  and  settlement,  leases  and  underleases,  and 
admit  of  nought  but  estates  in  fee  simple  ;  and  you  would  effect 
no  real  abiding  elevation  of  our  countrymen  unless  you  brought 
about  at  the  same  time  a  conviction  of  persongd  and  social 
obligations  providing  a  self-control  without  which  all  legislative 
boons  are  transitory  benefits.  I  would  have  this  insisted  upon 
in  all  popular  teaching. 

In  his  academic  utterances  no  less  than  in  his  political 
speeches  and  private  correspondence  Courtney  proclaimed 
the  gospel  of  hard  work  and  self-help.  In  an  address  to 
the  Political  Economy  Circle  of  the  National  Liberal  Club 
in  April,  1888,  on  "  The  Occupation  of  Land,"  afterwards 
pubhshed  in  the  Nineteenth  Century,  he  argues  that  nothing 
but  good  use  justifies  possession  of  land,  and  that  imperfect 
use  justifies  dispossession.  If  good  use  is  secured  it  matters 
little  whether  the  holder  be  an  individual  or  the  State.  A 
good  occupier  deserves  every  protection  and  encouragement. 
The  rigid  lease  gives  both  too  much  and  too  little.  The 
three  F's  of  the  Irish  tenant — fair  rent,  fixity  of  tenure,  and 
free  sale — should  be  extended  to  England.  But  even  they 
do  not  guarantee  good  use  of  the  land  ;  and  there  should 
therefore  be  an  impartial  authority  to  supervise  and  where 
necessary  alter  the  relations  of  occupier  and  owner.  "  My 
object  is  the  liberation  and  encouragement  of  those  who  are 
working  for  themselves.  I  am  not  for  helping  the  weak. 
I  wish  to  remove  impediments,  to  help  those  who  are  help- 
ing themselves." 

An  address  on  "  The  Swarming  of  Men,"  dehvered  at 
Leicester  in  January,  1888,  repeated  at  Toynbee  Hall,  and 

286  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

published  in  the  Nineteenth  Century,  covered  wider  ground. 
"  We  may  see  myriads  of  men  rush  into  being  ;  thronging, 
pressing,  spreading  wherever  a  point  seems  vacant  of  Ufe, 
and  then  again  passing  out  of  being  whilst  new  m3niads 
swarm  upon  their  traces  before  they  have  well  disappeared. 
How  this  cloud  of  being  comes  and  goes  ;  why  this  spot  is 
darkened  with  the  thickening  mass,  whilst  that  other  is 
covered  with  a  thinner  veil ;  in  what  way  the  moving 
particles  of  the  stream  of  humanity  contribute  to  shape  its 
course  and  volume — these  are  the  speculations  I  would 
fain  pursue.  The  great  migrations  which  have  swept  over 
Asia  and  Europe  are  now  at  an  end  ;  but  their  modem 
equivalent,  the  industrial  migrations,  is  only  another 
variety  of  the  struggle  for  existence  which  forms  the  main 
theme  of  human  history."  Beginning  with  his  own  country 
the  lecturer  recalls  how  the  nine  milUons  in  England  and 
Wales  in  1801,  the  date  of  the  first  census,  had  grown  to 
twenty-eight  milUons  ;  how  the  greatest  increase  occurred 
in  the  first  half  of  the  century  ;  how  the  proportion  of  town 
to  country  dwellers  had  advanced  ;  how  provincial  cities 
had  waxed  even  more  rapidly  than  London  ;  how  trades 
enrich  or  desert  a  given  centre  ;  how  immigration,  emigra- 
tion and  facilities  of  locomotion  affect  the  balance ;  how 
Scotland  exhibits  much  the  same  result ;  how  Ireland  out- 
grew her  resources  in  the  first  half  of  the  century  and  saw 
her  population  drift  overseas  in  the  second.  Extending 
his  glance  beyond  the  British  Isles,  he  reveals  Scandinavia 
and  Germany  throwing  off  swarms  of  emigrants  to  North 
America,  and  Italians  thronging  to  South  America.  Within 
the  United  States  we  trace  the  same  migrations  from 
East  to  centre  and  from  centre  to  West  in  search  of  wider 

On  concluding  his  survey  the  lecturer  summed  up  its 
lessons  in  a  strain  of  philosophic  eloquence.  "  The  spectacle 
we  have  been  pursuing  is  but  a  study  with  reference  to  man 
of  that  constant  struggle  for  existence  to  which  the  great 
philosopher  of  our  time  has  traced  diversities  of  the  forms 
of  life  ;  but  the  quantity  of  any  species  of  brute  life  is 
maintained  at  any  moment  up  to  its  fullest  capacity  of 


existence.  Can  it  be  pretended  that  the  cup  of  human 
existence  must  always  thus  be  brimming  over  ?  We  count 
the  individual  man  at  least  master  of  himself.  His  sense  of 
responsibility  can  be  awakened,  his  conscience  vivified  and 
strengthened  ;  and  the  over-conscience  of  the  multitude 
is  born  of  the  consciences  of  separate  men.  If  it  becomes 
part  of  the  universal  conscience  to  look  before  and  after ; 
if  the  general  training  of  men  be  directed  towards  making 
them  more  alert  to  seize  upon  new  occasions  of  industry, 
and  to  recognise  the  changes  of  condition  which  require  the 
abandonment  of  decaying  occupations  ;  if,  instead  of  vain 
repinings  and  impotent  struggles  against  change,  there  is 
a  frank  acceptance  of  the  inevitable  which  is  also  beneficial ; 
above  aU,  if  the  relation  of  numbers  to  the  means  of  existence 
is  confessed,  and  men  are  taught  to  recognise  practically 
and  habitually  their  responsibiUty  for  their  children's  start 
in  life,  we  may  face  the  future  without  anxiety  if  not  with- 
out concern.  But  I  cannot  honestly  say  that  I  believe  these 
conditions  of  successful  conduct  in  the  future  are  at  present 
reahsed.  I  must  confess,  not  for  the  first  time,  to  a  suspicion 
that  they  are  less  generally  apprehended  than  they  were  in 
a  preceding  generation.  Our  immediate  predecessors  seem 
to  me  to  have  been  more  loyal  in  admitting  the  rigour  of 
the  conditions  of  life,  more  courageous  in  rejecting  indolent 
sentimentalities  ;  they  knew  the  severities  of  the  rule  of 
the  universe,  and  the  penalties  of  neglecting  to  conform  to 
it.  Many  causes  have  conspired  to  corrupt  this  sound 
morality  ;  but  the  circumstances  of  to-day  seem  to  require 
that  a  strenuous  effort  should  be  made  to  restore  and 
spread  its  authority  before  the  remorseless  pressure  of  fact 
comes  to  re-establish  its  sanction." 

A  third  address,  delivered  at  University  College  on 
February  11,  1891,^  was  devoted  to  Socialism,  which  he 
depicted  as  economically  impracticable  and  morally  un- 
desirable. As  a  boy  he  had  heard  much  talk  of  Robert 
Owen,  and  as  a  young  man  he  had  bought  his  clothes  at 
one  of  the  co-operative  shops  started  by  the  "  Christian 
Socialists,"  who  were  not  Socialists  at  all.     If  small  com- 

^  Reported  verbatim  in  the  Times. 

288  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

munities  had  failed  through  bad  management  and  human 
friction,  what  brain  could  control  the  operations  of  a  vast 
machine  involving  the  life  of  a  whole  nation  ?  A  socialist 
community,  could  it  be  formed,  would  be  a  sluggish  river 
if  not  a  stagnant  pool ;  and  the  organisation  of  industry  is 
too  complex  a  task  for  a  bureaucracy.  The  difficulties  that 
beset  the  theory  of  collectivism  are  insuperable.  But  this 
negative  result  does  not  throw  us  back  on  an  unimprovable 
anarchy.  "  Consider  what  might  be  accomplished  through 
a  growth  in  temperance,  prudence  and  the  exercise  of 
S3mipathy,  Poverty,  as  we  understand  it,  would  disappear. 
Strong  men  and  free  men,  with  personal  independence 
unabated  yet  inbred  with  mutual  respect,  would  associate, 
working  out  an  elevation  of  the  common  Hfe  through 
individual  advancement.  The  individualist  has  also  his 
ideal.  Life  is  richer  than  ever  in  variety  and  beauty  ;  for 
while  the  toil  needed  to  support  existence  is  abated  and 
the  condition  of  all  has  been  raised,  character  and  independ- 
ence, vivacity,  self-rehance  and  courage — all  the  elements 
that  constitute  the  personal  genius  of  each  citizen — have 
been  strengthened." 

The  strongest  Parliaments  exhaust  their  strength,  and 
in  the  session  of  1890  Unionist  stock  began  to  fall  rapidly. 
The  withdrawal  of  the  grant  to  local  authorities  for  the 
purchase  and  extinction  of  licenses  was  a  damaging  blow 
to  the  Government,  and  revealed  a  weakness  in  the  Higher 


July  2. — We  have  had  a  nasty  fortnight  for  the  Unionist 
cause.  For  some  time  business  in  the  House  has  been  going 
slowly  and  badly,  the  Government  not  managing  well.  Poor  old 
W.  H.  Smith  ill  and  not  equal  to  the  strain.  The  Opposition 
obstructing  abominably,  and  Leonard  feeling  sometimes  bound 
to  refuse  the  closure,  to  the  great  disgust  of  the  Tory  rank  and 
file.  To  complete  the  trouble  Goschen  and  Ritchie  insist  on 
passing  the  Compensation  Clauses  of  the  Local  Taxation  Bill, 
ardently  opposed  by  the  fanatical  teetotallers,  disliked  by 
financial  people  like  Leonard,  and  not  cared  for  by  any  one. 
Feeling  higher  at  every  stage,  and  Government  majority  lower 


at  every  division.  At  last  Government  announce  partial  with- 
drawal and  finally  total  withdrawal.  Caine,  who  has  led  the 
Temperance  opposition,  throws  up  his  seat  in  disgust  and  goes 
off  to  contest  it  as  an  Independent  Liberal.  Great  consternation, 
and  House  so  demoralised  one  night  (July  24)  that  anything  might 
have  happened.  Ministry  all  collapsed  apparently.  Considering 
they  have  a  good  majority  and  are  not  failing  in  their  main  policy 
of  Irish  Government,  it  seems  absurd  for  the  Unionist  party  to 
succumb  hke  that  to  what  is  after  all  only  comparatively  a  trifling 
blunder  ;  but  the  truth  is  there  is  no  leader. 

The  return  of  a  Gladstonian  Liberal  at  the  bye-election, 
defeating  both  the  Conservative  candidate  and  Caine  him- 
self, seemed  a  portent,  and  Liberal  Unionists  began  to  wear 
long  faces. 

To  his  Wife 

July  9,  1890. — In  going  through  the  Lobby  to-night  I  was 
intercepted.  "  Was  it  true  that  Randolph  was  coming  back  ? 
People  were  saying  that  he  was  to  be  Home  Secretary.  Some 
said  that  he  was  to  lead  the  House,  but  most  said  Beach."  To 
which  I  could  only  say  I  had  not  heard  a  word  of  it. 

The  Government  had  lost  its  nerve  and  felt  that  it 
required  a  long  rest. 

To  Ms  Wife 

July  II,  1890. — Everything  contested  is  thrown  over,  and 
we  meet  again  in  November.  It  is  very  disgusting  looking  back 
upon  Easter  and  thinking  that  nothing  but  mischief  has  been 
done  since. 

The  autumn  holiday  was  spent  in  Ireland,  which  he  had 
not  seen  since  1883,  Landing  at  Dublin  he  struck  south, 
visiting  Lord  Monteagle  and  Henry  Butcher,  and  then 
made  his  way  up  the  west  coast.  Travelling  through 
Donegal  and  Londonderry  he  reached  Belfast,  where  he 
was  shown  over  Harland  and  Wolff's  by  Mr.  Pirrie,  delivered 
a  speech  to  local  Unionists,  and  lectured  on  Proportional 
Representation  to  the  Philosophical  Society.  The  tour 
ended  as  it  began  in  Dublin,  where  he  discussed  his  impres- 
sions with  T.  W.  Russell,  the  O'Conor  Don,  Richard  Bagwell, 


290  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

and  Bishop  O'Dwyer.  The  journey  suppHed  him  with 
ammunition  for  his  autumn  campaign.  "  I  return  a  more 
convinced  Unionist  than  ever."  The  difference  between 
Ulster  and  the  rest  of  Ireland  was  moral  even  more  than 
material.  The  settlement  of  the  land  question  would 
dispose  of  Home  Rule.  "  It  wiU  not  at  once  kill  the 
demand,  but  it  will  abate  it.  And  if  a  Home  Rule  Parha- 
ment  were  to  be  established,  it  would  start  with  better 
prospects,"  Land  purchase  should  be  regarded  as  a  safety- 
valve  where  the  friction  of  the  dual  system  is  intolerable ; 
but  it  should  be  neither  universal  nor  compulsory. 

While  opinion  in  the  constituencies  seemed  to  be  veering 
towards  Gladstonian  Liberahsm,  an  unexpected  stroke  of 
fortime  revived  the  spirits  of  Unionists  and  spread  dismay 
in  the  Home  Rule  ranks.  Parhament  reassembled  on 
November  23,  and  Courtney  took  the  place  of  the  Speaker, 
whose  wife  was  dying  of  cancer.  The  Leader  of  the  House 
desired  to  substitute  a  mere  expression  of  thanks  for  the 
usual  detailed  reply  to  the  Queen's  Speech,  in  order  to 
shorten  the  debate  on  the  Address.  Courtney  anticipated 
opposition,  and  Gladstone  at  once  rose  to  formulate  objec- 
tions. But  the  Address  was  voted  the  same  evening,  for 
Members  could  think  of  nothing  but  the  O'Shea  divorce 
case  and  of  its  political  consequences.  Though  the  Irish 
Members  were  ready  to  back  their  chief,  Gladstone's  letter 
demanding  his  retirement  was  followed  by  Pamell's  des- 
perate fight  for  existence.  The  savage  quarrels  of  the 
NationaUsts  and  the  exposure  of  the  Irish  leader  filled 
Englishmen  with  disgust,  and  postponed  the  conversion  of 
"  the  predominant  partner "  to  Home  Rule.  After  the 
buffetings  of  1889  and  1890  the  Government  recovered  its 
breath  in  1891,  when  it  paid  for  the  loyal  support  of  Liberal 
Unionists  by  the  aboUtion  of  school  fees.  Free  Educa- 
tion had  figured  in  the  "  Unauthorised  Programme,"  and 
Chamberlain  was  not  the  man  to  drop  a  popular  cry  because 
he  had  changed  his  party.  The  Government  Bill  was  a 
Chamberlain  measure,  and  no  member  of  the  Cabinet  was 
half  so  interested  in  its  fortunes  as  the  Member  for  West 
Birmingham.     The  Chairman  of  Committees  cared  as  little 


for  Socialistic  Radicalism  in  1891  as  in  1885,  and  declined 
to  support  it  in  the  Division  Lobby. 


Easter. — Stay  with  Evelyn  Ashley  at  Broadlands.  Chamber- 
lain there.  He  asked  me  if  I  had  "  any  influence  over  Courtney." 
I  said  "  Not  much  ;  no  one  has."  "  Well,  whatever  influence 
you  have,  use  it  to  instil  into  his  mind  never  to  refuse  the  closure 
during  these  next  months  whatever  the  circumstances." 

Courtney's  dislike  of  Free  Education,  however,  was 
shared  by  few,  and  the  BiU  had  an  easy  passage  through 
Parliament.  Before  starting  for  Germany  and  Tirol  at  the 
close  of  the  session,  he  wrote  to  congratulate  the  Chief 
Secretary  on  his  intention  to  include  Minority  Representa- 
tion in  the  scheme  of  Irish  Local  Government  which  he  was 

To  Arthur  Balfour 

August  29. — I  am  extremely  glad  that  you  delivered  yourself 
at  Pl5anouth  as  you  did  on  Local  Government  in  Ireland,  and 
that  you  intimated  that  the  representation  of  minorities  would 
be  aimed  at  in  your  scheme.     It  is  remarkable  that  none  of  your 
critics  has  noticed  this  intimation,  and  I  interpret  their  silence 
to  indicate  uncertainty  how  it  should  be  met.     Harcourt  told  me 
before  the  prorogation  that  you  had  told  him  as  much  and  his 
instinct  was  naturally  one  of  opposition  ;   but  I  think  Morley's 
inchnation  (if  nothing  more)  would  be  the  other  way,  and  I 
beheve  it  would  be   extremely  difficult   to  marshal  a  united 
opposition  against  the  provision.   The  remonstrances  your  formal 
announcement  has  provoked  against  deahng  with  Local  Govern- 
ment at  all  in  Ireland  are  no  more  than  you  must  have  expected 
and  will  not  disquiet  you.     We  return  in  October,  and  in  the  latter 
part  of  that  month  I  shall  be  visiting  my  constituents  and  making 
a  series  of  poUtical  speeches.     I  intend  in  these  to  deal  with  the 
expediency  and  necessity  of  a  measure  of  Local  Government  in 
Ireland  again  and  again,  and  I  shall  of  course  dwell  on  the  repre- 
sentation of  minorities  as  an  essential  part  of  the  measure.     I 
hope  the  tale  won't  appear  too  often  told,  but  the  persistent 
advocacy  may  gain  in  force  what  it  loses  in  wearisomeness.    At 
all  events  I  shall  do  everything  I  can  by  way  of  preparation,  and 
if  when  the  time  comes  there  is  anything  you  would  like  specially 

292  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

noted  I  shall  be  glad  to  hear  from  you.  It  is  early  to  talk  of  next 
session.  You  showed  in  the  Purchase  BiU  that  you  could  fight 
single-handed,  perhaps  better  than  with  assistance  ;  but  on  the 
Local  Government  Bill  you  would  have  to  face  a  somewhat 
different  opposition,  and  the  thought  sometimes  occurs  to  me 
whether  I  could  now  and  then  give  assistance  that  might  be 
useful.  Raikes  has  passed  away  very  suddenly.  I  had  not 
suspected  physical  weakness.  He  was  an  excellent  Chairman  of 
Committees  and  I  look  upon  myself  as  his  pupil.  I  wish  you 
could  take  his  place  as  Member  for  the  University.  The  ties  of 
Manchester  may  be  too  strong,  but  if  you  could  with  honour 
leave  those  sheep  in  the  wilderness  all  Cambridge  men  would  hail 
you.  I  must  not  run  into  gossip.  My  wife  joins  me  in  kindest 

While  the  Chairman  of  Committees  was  enjojdng  himself 
on  the  Continent,  the  National  Liberal  Federation  met  at 
Newcastle  and  drew  up  what  was  known  as  the  Newcastle 
Programme.  Home  Rule  naturally  occupied  the  fore- 
ground of  the  picture  ;  but  Local  Veto  and  Disestablishment 
of  the  Church  in  Wales  were  formally  adopted  as  fighting 
issues  for  the  election  of  the  following  year.  Each  of  the 
three  planks  had  numerous  and  powerful  enemies  ;  but  one 
of  them,  at  least,  had  no  terrors  for  Courtney.  Disestablish- 
ment, he  told  his  constituents  on  his  autumn  visit,  was  a 
matter  of  time,  place  and  circumstance.  Many  Churches 
flourished  though  unconnected  with  the  State.  Essential 
reforms  could  not  be  obtained  from  Parliament ;  and, 
speaking  as  a  Churchman,  he  would  be  glad  to  remove  the 
fetters.  DisestabUshment  in  Wales  was  near  at  hand  ;  and 
if  it  were  to  come  later  in  England  it  would  be  in  some 
degree  owing  to  growth  in  the  life  and  energy  in  the  Church. 
His  general  attitude  towards  current  issues,  new  and  old, 
was  set  forth  in  a  letter  to  a  Bodmin  correspondent. 

To  a  Constituent 

I  deplore  the  dependence  of  the  finances  of  India  upon  the 
opium  trade.  I  would  join  in  any  step  to  prevent  the  increase 
of  that  dependence,  such  as  forbidding  the  introduction  of  opimn 
into  countries  it  had  not  entered,  and  I  should  be  glad  to  see 
measures  taken  to  contract  the  trade  ;  but  I  cannot  join  in  any 


vote  for  stopping  it  altogether — at  all  events  until  I  see  how  the 
loss  is  to  be  made  up.  The  net  revenue  is  less  than  it  was,  but 
is  still  too  large  a  sum  to  be  abandoned  at  the  risk  of  bankruptcy. 
As  to  Temperance  legislation  at  home  I  have  often  declared  in 
favour  of  Sunday  closing  ;  but  I  have  always  added  it  would  be 
necessary  to  except  London.  London  hours  might  perhaps  be 
reduced.  I  should  add  that  though  prepared  to  vote  for  a  bill 
for  England  I  am  still  of  opinion  that  it  would  be  better  for  each 
county  to  make  a  bye-law  for  itself.  As  to  Local  Option  I  voted 
last  session  for  a  Welsh  Local  Option  Bill  of  a  very  crude  character, 
but  I  did  so  deUberately  as  expressing  my  conviction  that  some 
measure  of  local  restraint  or  prohibition  must  be  passed.  I 
cannot,  however,  honestly  say  that  I  think  this  question  is  near 
settlement.  I  doubt  whether  any  person  on  either  of  the  two 
front  benches  has  appUed  his  mind  to  drawing  a  bill  on  it,  perhaps 
I  ought  to  say  since  Mr.  Bruce's  abortive  bill  of  twenty  years  ago. 
I  always  thought  very  well  of  that  measure  myself  as  honest  in 
intention,  as  one  that  would  long  ere  this  have  been  largely 
operative  had  it  been  adopted,  and  as  one  that  might  have  been 
extended  when  time  proved  its  utility.  It  is  possible  that  when 
the  hour  of  legislation  comes  Parhament  will  fall  back  upon  its 
principles  if  not  upon  its  provisions.  The  experiences  of  our 
Colonies,  of  our  kinsmen  in  the  United  States  and  of  Northern 
Europe  show  that  the  question  is  not  easy  and  that  many  experi- 
ments will  probably  be  tried  in  deaUng  with  it. 

While  the  armies  were  gathering  for  the  coming  battle, 
three  familiar  figures  left  the  stage  on  which  they  had 
played  an  active  part.  On  October  6  the  Irish  leader's 
stormy  life  came  to  an  end,  and  on  the  same  day  the  blame- 
less Leader  of  the  House  passed  away.  But  the  removal 
of  PameU  and  W.  H.  Smith  affected  Courtney's  fortunes 
less  than  the  death  of  the  seventh  Duke  of  Devonshire, 
which  terminated  the  long  career  in  the  House  of  Commons 
of  Lord  Hartington,  whom  he  had  followed  with  confidence 
and  admiration  since  1886,  and  substituted  as  the  Liberal 
Unionist  leader  a  man  with  whom  he  had  nothing  in  common 
save  a  dislike  of  Home  Rule. 

From  the  Duke  of  Devonshire 

December  30,  1891. — Of  all  the  tributes  to  the  memory  of  my 
father  which  I  have  received  I  value  none  more  highly  than  yours 

294  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap,  xm 

I  hope  that  you  over-estmiate  the  effect  of  my  removal  from  the 
House  of  Commons.  During  the  last  session  or  two  I  have  felt 
that  there  was  not  much  occasion  for  activity  or  exertion  on  my 
part  in  the  House.  If  there  is  more  active  work  to  be  done  in 
the  next  session,  I  am  sure  that  it  will  be  as  weU  or  better  done 
by  my  successor,  and  my  only  apprehension  is  as  to  a  popular 
excess  of  zeal. 

In  the  last  session  of  the  Salisbury  Parliament  Mr. 
Balfour,  though  no  longer  Chief  Secretary,  introduced  his 
Local  Government  Bill  for  Ireland.  The  measure  was  hotly 
attacked  by  the  Opposition  and  coldly  welcomed  on  the 
Government  Benches  ;  but  it  included  the  promised  cumu- 
lative voting  and  earned  the  blessing  of  the  Chairman  of 
Committees.  Nobody,  however,  expected  it  to  pass,  for 
the  General  Election  was  in  sight.  Easter  and  Whitsun 
were  spent  in  electioneering,  and  on  June  26  ParUament 
was  dissolved.  Courtney's  Liberal  friends  hoped  that  he 
would  hold  the  seat,  and  Mundella  effusively  declared  at  a 
dinner-party  in  Cheyne  Walk  that  he  and  John  Morley 
would  go  down  and  help  him  if  there  was  any  real  danger 
of  losing  it.  The  sitting  Member,  however,  felt  no  tremors, 
and  defended  the  six-year  record  with  vigorous  conviction. 
"  Peace  and  friendship  have  been  maintained,"  he  declared  ; 
"  we  have  had  no  wars  nor  rumours  of  wars.  There  is  no 
real  criticism  of  Lord  Sahsbury's  administration  of  foreign 
affairs."  Mr.  Balfour's  rule  in  Ireland  had  been  thoroughly 
successful,  and  Home  Rule  was  as  needless  and  dangerous 
as  ever.  The  estabUshment  of  County  Councils  was  a 
peaceful  and  beneficent  revolution.  "  Looking  either  at 
the  foreign,  colonial  or  domestic  poHcy  of  the  Government, 
it  deserves  Liberal  support."  Most  Liberals,  however, 
thought  otherwise,  and  the  seat  was  held  by  the  greatly 
reduced  majority  of  231. 



The  Home  Rulers  emerged  from  the  polls  with  a  majority 
of  forty,  and  it  was  generally  expected  that  a  new  Chairman 
of  Committees  would  be  appointed  from  the  ranks  of  the 


August  4. — ^The  new  Parliament  meets  and  I  go  down,  as  I 
am  to  keep  my  old  seat  until  the  new  Chairman  is  appointed, 
about  which  there  is  great  discussion  in  the  papers.  The  Glad- 
stonian  papers  are  taking  it  for  granted  that  it  is  a  party 
office  and  must  go  with  the  Government.  There  is  no  precedent 
either  way,  and  L.  has  a  strong  opinion  that  one  ought  to  be 
created  making  the  Chairmanship  a  non-party  post,  seeing  that 
he  has  so  much  to  do  with  the  closure  now  and  that  the  office  is 
almost  a  new  one  in  that  respect.  I  hope  and  beheve  he  will 
refuse  to  go  on  as  Chairman  even  if  they  ask  him,  for  I  want 
him  to  guide  opinion  on  our  side  more  than  he  can  do  in  the 
Chair  and  take  a  more  active  part  in  the  warfare.  I  wonder 
if  I  am  wrong.     Anyhow  I  am  in  agreement  with  his  constituents. 

The  suspense  was  soon  over,  and  it  was  announced  that 
a  lawyer  of  no  special  distinction  or  capacity  was  to  rule 
in  his  place.  Courtney's  reflections  on  the  changes  in  the 
poUtical  landscape  were  confided  to  a  valued  friend  who 
had  fallen  on  the  field  of  battle. 

To  Arthur  Elliot 

August  16,  1892. — I  moaned  over  your  defeat ;  it  was  one 
of  the  worst  incidents  of  the  Election.  I  know  none  more 
disgusting ;   and  the  Election  was  fruitful  in  pretty  bad  things. 


296  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

John  Morley  makes  no  secret  of  his  vexation  not  only  in  his 
own  case  but  at  the  final  result  for  the  party.  A  victory  without 
power  !  A  Government  established  but  too  weak  to  get  through 
their  first  work.  As  to  himself  I  have  a  feeUng  that  he  will  be 
re-elected  at  Newcastle  despite  the  3000  majority  at  the  General 
Election.  I  am  writing  at  the  Reform  Club  where  not  so  much 
is  known  as  you  will  know  when  this  reaches  you.  The  place 
is  full  of  fussy  expectants  and  I  have  retired  to  the  Library 
where  silence  is  imperative.  I  hear  Labouchere  is  in  the  Smoking 
Room  speaking  his  mind  freely.  Mr.  G.  is  a  superannuated  old 
goose  and  Arnold  Morley  is  too  ridiculous.  He,  Labby,  has 
received  no  communication  whatever !  !  !  X.  is  moving  about 
anxiously  doubting  whether  he  may  not  be  passed  over.  I 
tell  him  it  is  not  too  late.  Another  nervous  shadow  finds 
London  detestable  in  August — wonders  how  anybody  can  endure 
it.  I  have  seen  this  kind  of  thing  go  on  two  or  three  times  before, 
and  a  real  artist  could  make  a  great  picture  of  it.  These  poor 
devils  with  desire  gnawing  at  their  hearts  are  a  sight  for  the  gods, 
but  I  don't  feel  as  if  we  were  a  very  jolly  spectacle.  One  would 
have  preferred  to  knock  Home  Rule  on  the  head,  or,  barring  that, 
to  be  knocked  on  the  head  ourselves ;  but  neither  being  done 
we  have  a  stormy,  doubtful  time  ahead.  If  the  Old  Man  has 
really  treated  Labouchere  as  nobody,  he  has  provided  a  whip 
for  himself  at  once.  We  may  really  have  another  General 
Election  within  twelve  months,  and  what  a  servitude  life  will 
be  for  those  who  got  in  with  narrow  majorities  1  I  have  sworn 
I  will  not  be  a  slave. 

The  Unionist  Ministry  faced  the  new  Parliament,  and 
after  a  short,  sharp  debate  were  defeated  on  an  amendment 
to  the  Address  moved  by  Mr.  Asquith. 


August  II. — My  old  seat  I  suppose  for  the  last  time.  The 
speech  of  the  evening  was  Chamberlain's — very  clever,  splendidly 
clever,  very  bitter.  The  Terrace  was  crowded,  and,  except  the 
few  prominent  Opposition  leaders  who  look  dreadfully  anxious, 
everybody  is  happy.  The  outgoing  Government  look  cheery, 
Mr.  Balfour  beaming  like  a  boy  about  to  have  a  long-deferred 
holiday.  The  rank  and  file  Unionists  look  forward  to  having 
their  fling  and  more  fun  and  less  grind,  while  the  rank  and  file 
Gladstonians  are  full  of  coming  triumph  and  many  hopeful  of 
promotion.     We  Unionists  don't  think  Home  Rule  can  come 


with  the  size  and  composition  of  the  majority,  and  look  forward 
to  a  certain  wholesome  clearing  of  the  air  with  Mr.  Gladstone 
in  power  again. 

Courtney  was  of  opinion  that  the  new  Ministry  should 
have  fair  play.  The  country,  he  told  his  constituents, 
seemed  to  have  determined  to  give  the  Old  Man  another 
chance.  The  temptation  to  join  with  discontented  factions 
and  eject  the  Government  must  be  resisted.  Continual 
changes  were  undesirable.  The  Gladstonians  should  have 
the  opportunity  of  performing  what  they  had  promised, 
so  that,  if  they  failed,  their  failure  should  be  clearly  attri- 
buted to  the  fact  that  their  promises  were  impossible  of 
execution,  not  to  factious  opposition.  It  was  asking  a 
good  deal  of  human  nature  ;  but  abstinence  from  "  factious 
opposition  "  was  no  effort  to  the  most  independent  Member 
of  the  House.  Moreover  the  Chief  Secretary  was  his  inti- 
mate friend,  and  he  was  ready  to  co-operate  with  the  Home 
Rulers  in  giving  Ireland  everything  except  Home  Rule. 
Mr.  Morley  was  no  sooner  reinstated  in  Phoenix  Park  than 
he  sent  a  pressing  invitation  to  his  friend  to  pay  him  a 
visit.  He  had  congratulated  the  Member  for  East  Cornwall 
on  his  victory,  "  notwithstanding  your  bad  poUtics,"  and 
had  received  in  return  good  wishes  for  his  victory  in  the 
troublesome  bye-election,  "  as  magnanimous  as  they  were 

From  John  Morley  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

November  20,  1892. — ^Where  are  you  ?  Where  is  your 
promise  ?  When  do  you  come  under  this  humble  roof  ?  Why 
did  you  not  congratulate  me  about  Newcastle  ?  I  hope  you  are 
both  flourishing  Hke  green  bay  trees. 

A  visit  to  Dubhn  proved  impossible ;  but  the  autumn 
holiday  included  a  brief  sojourn  at  Whittingehame,  where 
they  found  a  family  party.  "  A  large,  solid,  comfortable 
house,"  wrote  Mrs.  Courtney  in  her  Journal.  "  Very  much 
loved  at  home  is  Prince  Arthur,  and  it  is  pleasant  to  see  him 
strolling  about  with  a  pruning  stick  cHpping  his  trees  and 
shrubs  on  the  Sunday  afternoon."     On  the  way  south  the 

298  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Roman  Wall  and  the  coast  castles  of  Northumberland  were 

The  first  session  of  the  fomrth  Gladstone  Ministry  opened 
on  January  31,  and  the  first  business  after  the  debate  on 
the  Address  was  the  introduction  of  the  second  Home  Rule 


February  13. — The  great  day,  the  great  declaration  has  come. 
It  was  a  grand  sight.  The  Old  Man  spoke  strongly  at  first  but 
with  weakening  voice  towards  the  end  of  his  two  and  a  quarter 
hours.  It  was  a  wonderful  effort  for  eighty-four  years,  and  with 
one  side  of  my  mind  I  admired  it  all,  while  the  other  Ustened 
with  indignation  to  this  long-expected  Bill. 

The  novelty  of  the  measure  was  the  retention  of  the 
Irish  Members,  who  were,  however,  only  to  vote  on  Irish 
and  Imperial  matters.  The  Nationahsts  had  acquired  a 
new  and  doughty  champion  in  Edward  Blake,  who  had  led 
the  Liberal  party  in  Canada,  and  whose  maiden  speech 
made  a  marked  impression  ;  while  the  Unionist  case  was 
supported  by  Randolph  Churchill,  who  broke  silence  after 
a  long  interval  but  whose  right  hand  had  lost  its  cunning. 
Courtney  had  never  spoken  on  Home  Rule  in  the  House  ; 
but  he  was  now  unmuzzled,  and  on  the  last  day  of  the 
First  Reading  debate  he  followed  Blake  and  Chamberlain. 
He  reiterated  his  old  conviction  that  a  subordinate  Parlia- 
ment, though  possible  in  theory,  was  impossible  in  practice. 
Ireland  must  be  governed  either  from  Dubhn  or  from 
London.  Any  attempt  to  modify  the  course  of  the  ship 
would  be  fiercely  resented,  and  would  have  to  be  either 
weakly  abandoned  or  peremptorily  enforced.  The  future 
of  Ireland  would  depend  on  the  character  of  the  Assembly, 
not  on  the  clauses  of  the  Act ;  and  the  new  Parliament 
would  be  httle  more  than  the  Irish  Members  sitting  in 
Dublin.  There  was  no  provision  in  the  Bill  for  the  repre- 
sentation of  minorities,  and  the  Irish  Unionists  would  be 
helpless  in  face  of  the  NationaUst  legions.  Slow  but  steady 
progress  had  been  made  since  the  Union.  Patience,  courage 
and  goodwill  would  in  the  long  run  produce  a  new  Ireland. 



It  was  a  most  trying  time  for  him  ;  for  members  always  rush 
out  after  two  or  three  hours'  excitement  when  the  dinner-hour 
is  nigh.  He  did  not  speak  well,  and  we  both  went  away  rather 
sorrowful.  Two  days  later  Sir  John  Lubbock  called  and  would 
not  have  it  that  L.'s  speech  was  a  failure,  but  only  less  well 
deUvered  than  usual.  He  is  a  dear,  kind  man  and  cheered  us 
by  being  more  sanguine  about  defeating  the  Bill  than  I  am. 
Horace  Plunkett  came  afterwards  and  we  liked  this  new  Irish 
Unionist  M.P.  very  much. 

A  dinner  with  Chamberlain,  at  which  Lord  and  Lady 
Salisbury  were  among  the  guests,  supplied  further  en- 
couragement. Courtney  was,  however,  as  a  rule  more 
effective  on  the  platform  than  in  the  House,  and  when 
Lord  George  Hamilton,  who  had  sat  in  Parliament  with 
him  for  fifteen  years,  heard  him  during  the  Easter  recess 
at  a  great  Unionist  demonstration  at  Pl5anouth,  he  was 
surprised  by  the  warmth  and  vigour  of  his  oratory.  While 
denouncing  Home  Rule  as  "an  injustice  before  God  and 
man  "  he  worked  hard  to  improve  the  Bill,  taking  an  active 
part  in  the  discussions  on  the  Committee  stage.  The  Chief 
Secretary  told  Margaret  Courtney  that  her  brother's  speeches 
were  the  best  and  most  useful  on  either  side,  and  that  he 
and  Mr.  Gladstone  always  Ustened  with  attention  to  them. 
Though  as  strong  a  Unionist  as  ever  he  was  not  invariably 
in  agreement  with  the  line  taken  by  his  leaders.  He  had 
always  held  that  if  a  Home  Rule  Parliament  was  set  up  it 
should  control  the  tariff,  and  he  now  advocated  the  con- 
cession of  that  power — a  position  which  in  a  strong  Free 
Trader  surprised  some  of  his  critics.  But  the  knowledge 
that  the  House  of  Lords  would  reject  the  Bill  cast  an  air 
of  imreality  over  the  debates,  and  much  of  it  was  voted 
without  discussion  and  with  the  aid  of  the  closure. 

At  the  invitation  of  his  leaders  Courtney  moved  the 
rejection  of  the  Third  Reading  on  August  3.  Rising 
immediately  after  the  Prime  Minister  he  met  the  complaint 
of  obstruction  with  the  rejoinder  that  the  Bill  had  been 
incompletely  discussed.     Passing  to  the  graver  counts  in 

300  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

the  indictment  he  maintained  that  no  change  of  such 
magnitude  had  ever  been  made  with  such  a  small  backing. 
If  an  Irish  majority  was  for  it,  an  EngUsh  majority  was 
against  it.  The  measure  was  constitutionally  and  finan- 
cially unworkable,  and  the  Lords  would  be  doing  their  duty 
in  throwing  it  out.  "  At  the  last  election  the  people  did 
not  have  the  Bill  before  them.  Next  time  they  wiU,  and 
they  will  reject  it."  It  was  a  vigorous  fighting  speech, 
convincing  enough  to  those  who  lacked  the  instinct  and 
vision  of  nationahty.  A  few  days  later  the  second  Home 
Rule  Bill  was  rejected  by  a  ten  to  one  majority  in  the  Upper 
House.  "  We  have  had  a  weary  time,"  he  wrote  to  Arthur 
EUiot,  "  despite  the  interest  of  many  of  the  constitutional 

When  the  main  BiU  of  the  session  was  out  of  the  way 
Courtney  reminded  his  constituents  that  "  except  in  opposi- 
tion to  Home  Rule  "  he  was  a  Liberal  stiU.  His  friend 
Lord  Hobhouse  used  to  say  that  he  was  the  only  man  who 
could  rightfully  caU  himself  a  Liberal  Unionist.  He  blessed 
the  Parish  Councils  BiU  on  its  second  reading,  and  in 
Committee  pressed  though  in  vain  for  the  cumulative  vote. 
"  The  Lords  now  have  the  Parish  Councils  Bill  in  hand," 
he  wrote  at  the  close  of  the  long  discussions  ;  "  but  neither 
they  nor  we  will  have  modified  it  in  any  reaUy  important 
degree.  It  wiU  pass,  and  in  view  of  its  good  results,  which 
are  considerable,  we  must  take  the  risk  of  its  evil."  The 
prolonged  session  yielded  httle  fruit ;  for  the  Employers' 
Liability  Bill  was  withdrawn  when  the  Upper  House  insisted 
on  contracting  out.  The  Government  possessed  as  Httle 
strength  in  the  country  as  in  the  House,  and  Gladstone's 
unexpected  retirement  in  the  spring  of  1894  diminished  the 
already  slender  capital  of  the  firm.  It  was  impossible  to 
witness  the  close  of  his  career,  declared  Courtney  to  his 
constituents  at  Easter,  without  strong  sympathy  and  some 
emotion.  The  old  Leader  was  an  enthusiast ;  his  successor 
was  a  cynic,  calm,  wary  and  self-possessed,  wealthy  and 
fond  of  racing.  He  had  listened  to  his  first  speech  as 
Premier  in  the  House  of  Lords,  and  his  confession  that  the 
predominant  partner  must  be  converted  before  Home  Rule 


could  be  passed  was  a  vindication  of  its  recent  action.  The 
Peers  never  opposed  when  the  people's  mind  was  made  up, 
and  they  were  often  wiser  in  details  than  the  Commons, 
as  when  they  insisted  on  contracting  out.  But  the  Upper 
Chamber  was  far  too  big.  Every  three  of  the  present 
Peers  should  elect  one  of  themselves,  and  new  blood  should 
be  introduced  by  the  creation  of  Life  Peers  and  by  represen- 
tatives of  County  Councils  and  County  Boroughs. 

Throughout  the  session  of  1894  Courtney  steadily  sup- 
ported the  Government.  Harcourt's  death  duties,  which 
were  utterly  repugnant  to  the  Conservative  mind,  appeared 
to  him  sound  finance  ;  and  he  had  never  concealed  his 
conviction  that  the  Church  of  the  minority  in  Wales  ought 
in  justice  to  be  disestabhshed.  He  had  explained  his  views 
in  a  letter  to  a  constituent  shortly  before  the  election  of 

To  a  Clergyman 

November  16,  1891. — It  is  quite  true  I  told  my  constituents 
(what  I  had  often  told  them  before)  that  Disestablishment  would 
come,  and  the  only  novelty  in  my  recent  remarks  lay  in  the 
suggestion  that  there  might  be  a  growing  feeling  within  the 
Church  that  on  the  whole  it  had  better  come.  Even  this  was 
not  quite  new.  You  speak  as  if  the  Church  would  be  left  quite 
penniless.  There  would  be  some  deprivation  of  this  world's 
goods,  but  much  would  be  left,  so  much  that  under  the  economical 
administration  of  a  responsible  Church  body  there  would  be  still 
a  large  nucleus  of  endowment  for  every  want,  and  the  loss  would 
be  scarcely  felt.  The  Irish  Church  was  doubtless  especially 
fortunate  in  the  time  of  the  rearrangement  of  its  funds,  but 
allowing  for  this  its  history  is  most  encouraging.  Many  Irish 
Churchmen  would  not  go  back,  setting  against  the  compara- 
tively insignificant  loss  of  endowment  the  gain  in  freedom  and 
in  the  power  of  organising  the  developing  resources.  I  do  not 
for  a  moment  believe  there  would  be  any  check  in  the  real  work 
of  the  Church.  You  say  the  question  is  one  for  laymen  as 
much  as,  even  more  than,  the  clergy.  I  have  always  so  regarded 
it.  In  fact  my  own  reluctance  to  contemplate  Disestablishment 
has  always  been  largely  due  to  the  apprehension  that  the  Dis- 
established Church  would  be  controlled  almost  exclusively 
by  ecclesiastics ;  but  a  time  must  come  when  advantages  and 
disadvantages  have  to  be  balanced  against  one  another.    Do 

302  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap 

not,  however,  suppose  that  I  think  Disestabhshment  imminent. 
That  is  not  my  opinion.  But  permanent  forces  are  working 
that  way,  and  on  the  other  hand  that  "  moderate  amount  of 
legislation "  you  look  for  to  remove  disadvantages  becomes 
yearly  more  hopeless  and  in  truth  will  never  be  accomplished. 
I  deprecate  above  all  things  the  defence  of  the  Church  degenerat- 
ing into  a  poor  struggle  to  maintain  more  or  less  of  silver  and  gold. 

He  naturally  adhered  to  his  opinion  when  the  Govern- 
ment introduced  their  Bill  in  1894,  though  he  consented  to 
abstain  from  supporting  it  in  the  Division  Lobby. 

To  a  Correspondent 

May  7,  1894. — I  am  afraid  my  answer  must  be  what  you 
expect  rather  than  what  you  desire.  I  cannot  see  my  way 
to  vote  against  the  Welsh  Disestablishment  Bill,  although  I  am 
prepared  to  defer  so  far  to  the  wishes  of  many  of  my  friends 
as  not  to  vote  in  its  favour.  I  know  this  attitude  will  displease 
many  and  may  please  none,  and  I  am  not  unmindful  of  the 
consequences  that  may  follow.  In  my  judgment  it  is  a  grievous 
error  to  tie  together  in  an  inseparable  bond  the  poUtical  organisa- 
tion of  the  Church  in  Wales  and  that  of  the  Church  in  England. 
You  probably  saw  the  letter  of  the  Headmaster  of  Rugby 
(Dr.  Perceval)  in  Friday's  Times.  It  agrees  so  much  with 
what  I  have  thought  and  spoken  that  I  might  adopt  it  as  my 
own ;  not  with  any  desire  to  screen  myself  behind  authority, 
but  for  the  proof  it  offers  that  a  man  may  be  a  faithful  Church- 
man and  yet  think  the  Welsh  EstabUshment  ought  to  be  undone. 

Opposition  to  Home  Rule  appeared  to  Courtney  to 
involve  support  of  every  remedial  measure  for  Ireland  ;  and 
the  Chief  Secretary  had  no  more  powerful  aUy  in  his  earnest 
endeavour  to  reinstate  the  evicted  tenants.  He  vigorously 
defended  his  vote  for  the  Second  Reading  of  the  BUI  in  an 
Open  Letter  to  a  Constituent.  He  had  advocated  this 
policy  at  public  meetings  during  and  after  the  election. 
Mr.  Balfour's  Land  Purchase  Bill  of  1891  accepted  the 
principle  of  reinstatement  as  purchasers,  subject  to  the 
landlord's  consent,  Mr.  Morley's  Bill  allowed  it  if  such 
consent  was  unreasonably  withheld,  in  which  case  the 
landlord  would  be  bought  out.     If  the  Unionists  returned  to 


power,  they  would  have  to  pursue  the  same  course.  "  It 
is  not  in  the  public  interest  that  a  cloud  of  landless  men 
should  be  hovering  about  the  land  they  once  held." 

This  statesmanlike  view  of  Irish  needs  was  not  shared  by 
the  Conservatives,  to  whom  the  compulsion  of  landlords 
was  an  abomination.  To  the  innumerable  amendments 
placed  upon  the  paper  the  Government  replied  by  a  closure 
resolution  ;  for  the  session  was  far  advanced  and  the  inten- 
tion to  wreck  the  Bill  was  unconcealed.  After  two  days  of 
unprofitable  wrangling  in  Committee  Courtney  delivered 
one  of  the  most  impressive  speeches  of  his  life.  "  I  cannot 
help  expressing  my  profound  regret  at  the  deplorable  con- 
dition in  which  we  are  landed.  It  is  a  matter  of  Imperial 
policy.  You  may  get  half  a  dozen  individuals — certainly 
not  a  majority  of  the  landlords — unreasonably  preventing 
what  you  say  is  a  reasonable  solution,  and  you  will  not 
allow  the  interference  of  the  State  for  the  removal  of  these 
plague  spots.  In  the  interest  of  Ireland  I  am  profoundly 
moved  by  the  spectacle  before  us  of  the  certain  failure  of 
the  Bill.  Who  is  responsible  for  it  ?  Is  it  the  impetuosity 
of  the  Government  with  its  closure  resolution  ?  Is  it  even 
now  too  late  for  a  settlement  ?  Perhaps  what  I  say  is  like 
one  crying  in  the  wilderness  and  saying  Peace,  Peace,  when 
there  is  no  peace.  Some  solution  ought  to  be  possible  which 
would  redeem  this  House  from  this  worse  than  degradation, 
the  saving  of  a  measure  bringing  peace  and  relief  to  that 
most  distracted  country."  The  phrases  were  simple  and 
unadorned  ;  but  their  effect  was  almost  mesmeric. 


July  31. — The  House  is  in  Committee  with  some  hundreds 
of  amendments  to  go  through.  Sir  W.  Harcourt  had  put  down 
a  notice  of  a  guillotine  resolution  to  include  Committee  and 
Report.  Leonard  has  been  trying  privately  to  get  the  leaders 
on  both  sides  to  agree  to  some  compromise.  John  Morley  very 
willing,  Harcourt  seemed  ditto,  and  L.  wrote  strong  appeals  to 
Mr.  Balfour  and  Mr.  Chamberlain.  So  I  went  to  the  House  to 
see  what  the  result  would  be.  Sir  William  got  up  and  moved 
the  gag  with  few  words.     Arthur  Balfour  rose  full  of  indignation, 

304  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

and  made  a  very  clever  and  fighting  party  speech.  John  Morley 
followed  with  a  fighting  answer,  Chamberlain  ditto,  and  Labby 
scoffed.  Then  L.  rose  and  made  his  appeal  to  both  sides  for  a 
better  spirit.  I  have  heard  equally  fine  speeches  from  him, 
but  never  one  in  Parliament  which  produced  the  same  effect. 
His  thoughts  were  from  his  heart,  his  words  well  chosen,  and 
it  was  undoubtedly  what  they  call  the  psychological  moment. 
The  crowded  house  was  Uterally  shaken  by  it,  and  for  half  a 
minute  it  seemed  as  if  his  appeal  would  succeed.  But  alas 
Harcourt  had  been  collecting  sharp  arrows  in  reply  to  Balfour's 
and  Chamberlain's  and  could  not  forego  them  ;  so,  though 
making  a  kind  of  offer,  he  so  covered  it  with  attacks  and  sneers 
that  the  game  was  up.  Goschen  followed  with  a  miserable 
screaming  speech,  and  the  guillotine  was  voted.  I  shall  never 
forget  the  interest  and  excitement  of  that  hour,  my  triimiph 
at  L.'s  success  or  my  grief  at  the  miserable  result.  But  one 
result  has  been  quite  a  sensation  in  the  papers,  and  letters  and 
words  of  praise  from  various  friends  on  both  sides. 

Mrs,  Courtney's  picture  of  the  scene  was  in  no  way 
over-coloured.  "  It  was  perhaps  the  most  dramatic  debate 
of  this  generation,"  wrote  the  5^.  James's  Gazette.  "  The 
effect  of  the  speech  was  almost  marvellous  to  those  who 
know  the  profound  cynicism  of  the  assembly.  But  the 
secret  was  simple.  It  was  its  downright  honesty,  its  obvious 
truthfulness  that  conquered  the  House  and  stirred  the  best 
impulses  in  every  Member."  "  His  practice  as  Chairman 
has  given  to  his  speeches  a  slightly  didactic  tone,"  com- 
mented the  Westminster  Gazette ;  "  but  last  night  he  was 
moved  from  his  equable  professorial  temper  by  a  sort  of 
strange,  prophetic  wrath  at  what  Seemed  to  him  the  sad 
and  wicked  scene  that  was  being  enacted.  Depths  were 
roused  unknown  to  the  House.  It  will  endear  him  to  the 
Irish  Members,  who  suddenly  realised  that  they  had  in  this 
stem  Unionist,  so  conscious  of  their  Celtic  sins,  one  who 
had  made  acquaintance  with  the  depths  of  Irish  suffering 
on  that  wild  Atlantic  seaboard."  Irish  gratitude  was 
voiced  by  Mr.  T.  P.  O'Connor  in  the  Sun.  "  In  language 
of  a  melodiousness,  exaltation  and  now  and  then  loftiest 
eloquence  which  were  a  startling  revelation  of  the  possibiH- 
ties  in  this  isolated,  self-restrained,  rather  hard  man,  he 


held  the  House  in  a  grip  tighter  than  I  have  seen  any  man 
exercise  over  it  for  many  a  day.  It  was  one  of  those  rare 
moments  when  the  ties  and  obhgations,  the  rancorous 
temper  of  poUtical  divisions  disappear  in  the  atmosphere 
of  touching  and  exalted  eloquence."  "  He  awed  the 
House,"  echoed  the  Daily  Chronicle.  "  Like  everybody 
else  I  fell  under  the  spell  and  forgot  to  store  his  words  in 
my  memory,  while  I  breathed  the  high  and  clear  atmosphere 
to  which  he  carried  his  hearers," 

The  appeal  was  fruitless,  and  the  guillotine  resolution 
was  carried  in  an  angry  House.  But  the  friends  of  the  Bill 
implored  him  to  continue  his  mediation,  and  T.  P.  O'Connor 
came  to  offer  on  behalf  of  the  NationaUst  party  to  give  up 
the  compulsory  powers  on  condition  that  if  the  Bill  failed  a 
compulsory  measure  should  be  introduced  next  year.  With 
this  ohve  branch  in  his  hand  Courtney  approached  the 
rival  leaders.  The  Chief  Secretary,  anxious  to  save  part 
at  any  rate  of  his  cargo,  proved  wilHng  enough  ;  and  the 
next  step  was  to  urge  the  Liberal  Unionist  Peers  to  accept 
the  Second  Reading  and  then  make  the  Bill  voluntary. 

From  the  Duke  of  Devonshire 

August  5. — I  think  it  is  difficult  to  decide  what  should  be 
done  in  the  House  of  Lords  till  we  see  what  takes  place  on  the 
Report  and  Third  Reading  in  the  House  of  Commons.  There 
seems  to  be  a  strong  objection,  not  confined  to  the  Conserva- 
tives nor  Irish  landlords,  to  giving  a  Second  Reading  to  the  Bill 
with  compulsion  in  it.  The  uncompromising  attitude  of  the 
Opposition  appears  to  have  produced  a  quite  unexpected  dis- 
position to  compromise  on  the  part  of  the  Government  and  Irish, 

The  Leader  of  the  Opposition  and  Chamberlain,  though 
they  had  no  desire  to  carry  the  Bill,  did  not  absolutely 
reject  Courtney's  advances.  There  was  thus  a  ray  of  hope 
when  the  House  met  on  August  7  for  the  Third  Reading. 


Mr.  Brodrick  moved  the  rejection  in  a  landlord's  speech, 
but  stUl  not  completely  shutting  the  door.  If  only  L.  had 
followed  !    But  he  was  told  the  Irish  were  going  to  put  up  some 


3o6  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

one  to  make  a  conciliatory  speech,  and  it  was  Mr.  O'Brien,  the 
man  most  eager  for  a  compromise.  But  after  exhorting  the 
Opposition  to  imitate  L.'s  noble  spirit  he  went  off  into  a  fit  of 
insane  fury,  threatening  and  insulting  landlords  and  Opposition 
in  fine  old  style.  "  All  is  over,"  was  Mr.  Morley's  word  to  L., 
who  sadly  remained  silent.  One  more  little  flicker,  for  those 
unaccountable  NationaHsts  do  want  the  Bill ;  and  so,  when 
only  an  hour  was  left,  half  for  Mr.  Balfour  and  half  for  Mr. 
Morley,  up  got  Dillon  and  claimed  to  answer  Chamberlain, 
who  had  intervened.  Mr.  Balfour  refused  to  give  way ;  but 
there  was  evidently  an  organised  call  for  Dillon,  who  then  asked 
the  Government  if  they  would  adjourn  the  debate  so  that  he 
might  speak.  Mr.  Morley  agreed,  but  something  unforeseen  by 
the  Irish  party  occurred.  Arthur  Balfour  waived  his  right  to 
speak.  Poor  Dillon,  who  had  evidently  risen  to  gain  another 
day  in  hope  of  saving  the  Bill,  made  a  very  flat  speech.  Mr. 
Morley  followed,  and  the  Third  Reading  was  carried,  Leonard 
voting  for  it. 

A  week  later  Mr.  Balfour,  dining  at  Cheyne  Walk, 
admitted  that  his  host's  speech  had  made  such  an  impression 
that,  though  he  personally  was  against  a  compromise,  he 
could  not  have  resisted  the  pressure  on  his  own  side  if  it 
had  not  been  for  O'Brien's  outrageous  speech.  The  failure 
of  the  compromise  negotiations  sealed  the  fate  of  the  measure 
in  the  Upper  House. 

From  the  Duke  of  Devonshire 

August  8. — I  imagine  there  is  very  little  chance  after  last 
night's  debate  of  any  arrangement  being  come  to  in  the  House 
of  Lords  as  to  the  Evicted  Tenants  Bill.  Still  it  is  possible  that 
suggestions  may  be  made  to  Liberal  Unionist  Peers  to  endeavour 
to  get  the  Second  Reading  agreed  to  with  the  object  of  convert- 
ing the  Bill  into  a  voluntary  one.  I  doubt  the  possibihty  or 
expediency  of  this  course  under  any  circumstances,  but  I  am 
quite  sure  that  it  is  absolutely  impossible  unless  the  Government 
are  prepared  to  take  some  step  and  open  some  communication 
with  Lord  Sahsbury  before  the  Second  Reading.  When  the 
Peers  have  come  up  to  vote  against  the  Second  Reading,  it  will 
be  impossible  to  induce  them  to  vote  for  it  on  the  chance  of  the 
amendments  they  may  be  able  to  introduce  in  Committee  and 
of  their  acceptance  by  the  Government  in  the  House  of  Commons. 
Nothing  less  than  an  undertaking  by  the  Government  that  they 


would  themselves  propose  the  amendments  necessary  to  convert 
the  Bill  into  a  voluntary  one,  and  to  meet  other  objections, 
would  have  a  chance  of  success,  and  I  do  not  know  that  this 
would.  I  do  not  think  that  it  would  be  fair  to  the  Opposition 
that  they  should  be  asked  to  take  the  responsibility  of  converting 
a  BiU,  the  principle  of  which  they  disapprove,  into  one  which 
they  could  accept.  To  accept  from  the  Government  a  totally 
different  Bill  would  be  another  matter. 

The  time  for  compromise  had  passed,  and  the  Bill  went 
forward  to  its  doom.  In  commending  it  to  the  Peers  the 
Prime  Minister  paid  a  warm  tribute  to  Courtney's  attempted 
mediation  ;  but  the  House  of  Landlords  had  scant  S5niipathy 
with  evicted  tenants  and  rejected  the  measure  by  an  over- 
whelming majority. 

The  autumn  holiday  was  spent  in  Scotland ;  and  a 
visit  to  Mr.  Haldane  at  Cloanden  was  followed  by  a  pilgrim- 
age to  a  shrine  which  attracted  few  pilgrims. 


September  26. — ^A  beautiful  and  most  interesting  day.  L.  had 
long  been  wanting  to  go  to  Haddington,  the  old  home  and  last 
resting-place  of  Mrs.  Carlyle,  of  whom  I  may  call  him  a  sort  of 
posthumous  lover,  for  he  delights  in  her  letters  and  all  the 
incidents  of  her  brilliant  existence  amid  more  than  common 
sorrow.  A  large  house  first  attracted  our  attention.  L.  went 
up  to  inquire,  half  hoping  it  might  be  the  house.  It  was  a  Bank  ; 
but  the  manager  told  us  that  his  family  were  old  friends  and 
that  the  funeral  had  been  from  the  house.  Following  directions 
we  soon  came  to  a  singularly  pretty,  half-defaced  fagade  on  to 
a  narrow  street,  still  a  doctor's  house  ;  and  a  long  passage  took 
us  to  the  entrance.  We  were  shewn  into  the  drawing-room, 
a  pretty  room  looking  over  the  large  back  garden  with  Adam 
mantelpiece.  We  pictured  the  vivacious  young  girl  and  the 
many  admirers  who  came  into  her  Hfe  before  "  the  young  wild 
beast,"  as  L.  calls  him,  appeared.  Then  to  the  Cathedral, 
a  much  finer  building  than  I  had  imagined.  Her  grave  Hes 
amid  sun  and  shadow.  The  pigeons  were  cooing  amid  the  ruins, 
and  the  whole  scene  was  lovely  and  touching.  Wandering  back 
another  way  we  saw  in  front  of  us  a  very  old  man.  L.  ran 
after  him  and  asked  him  the  way  to  the  old  school  where  Janey 
Welsh  was  taught.  He  turned  out  to  be  Dr.  Howden,  whose 
father  was  a  partner  of  hers,  and  he  gladly  gave  us  a  good  deal 

5o8  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

of  information.  We  lunched  at  the  George  in  the  coffee-room 
where  she  spent  a  long  evening  alone  on  her  last  visit  so  graphic- 
ally recorded  a  few  years  before  her  death.  To  our  surprise, 
just  as  we  had  finished,  our  old  gentleman,  who  was  over  eighty- 
five,  came  to  seek  us.  "  He  ought  to  have  shewn  us  over  the 
place ;  was  it  too  late  ?  "  We  joyfuUy  threw  over  our  train 
and  saUied  out  with  him,  again  to  the  Cathedral,  over  the  old 
bridge,  to  the  school  where  Irving  taught,  hearing  all  the  time 
about  Mrs.  Carlyle. 

During  the  winter  Courtney  took  a  leading  part  in 
securing  Carlyle's  house  in  Cheyne  Row  for  the  public.  He 
had  met  him  in  the  later  'sixties,  when  on  one  occasion  he 
espied  the  prophet  walking  alone  in  heavy  rain  without  an 
umbreUa.  With  some  difi&dence  the  younger  man  offered 
the  shelter  of  his  umbrella,  which  was  accepted.  Carlyle 
was  full  of  the  Reform  Bill  enfranchising  householders,  and 
of  his  pamphlet  entitled  Shooting  Niagara.  Courtney 
proved  a  good  listener,  and  at  the  end  of  the  walk  he  received 
an  invitation  to  pay  him  a  visit  some  day  ;  but  he  hesitated 
to  take  advantage  of  a  chance  meeting  and  never  crossed 
the  threshold  of  Cheyne  Row  till  years  after  the  old  man 
was  dead,  and  an  opportunity  arose  of  rescuing  it  for  the 
public.  He  asked  the  Chief  Secretary  to  support  the 
movement  with  a  speech. 

To  John  Motley 

January  20,  1895. — When  I  asked  the  Hon.  Secretary  two 
days  ago  why  your  name  was  not  on  the  enclosed  list  I  was  told 
that  you  were  suspected  of  want  of  sympathy.  I  expressed 
utter  disbehef.  Carlyle  is  no  more  infallible  than  any  other, 
and  a  poor  Irish  Secretary  may  feel  nervous  about  testifying 
any  respect  for  a  biographer  of  Cromwell ;  but  these  are  con- 
siderations for  feeble  men  without  any  sense  of  proportion. 
I  hear  the  movement  is  not  going  forward  as  rapidly  as  could  be 
wished,  and  LesUe  Stephen  and  his  fellow-workers  are  organising 
an  afternoon  meeting  at  the  Mansion  House  in  about  the  third 
week  in  February,  and  they  want  you  to  come  and  make  a  speech. 
Ripon  has  promised,  and  I  am  ready  to  go  if  the  Lord  Mayor 
wiU  aUow  me  to  enter  his  dweUing  ;  but  your  presence  would  be 
of  the  greatest  help.    Don't  let  me  labour  it  any  longer. 


An  invitation  to  Huxley  was  declined  on  other  grounds. 

From  T.  H.  Huxley 

January  23,  1895. — I  asked  my  doctor  to-day  if  I  might  go 
and  speak  at  your  meeting  and  he  said  No  with  a  big  N  and  an 
expression  not  compUmentary  to  my  wisdom — shared  I  am 
sorry  to  say  by  "  the  woman  that  owns  me."  And  very  sorry 
I  am  that  I  cannot  say  a  word  for  the  grand  old  Diogenes- 
Socrates  who  dragged  me  out  of  the  mud  of  British  Philisterei 
half  a  century  ago. 

Courtney's  speech  at  the  Mansion  House  was  described 
by  one  present  as  the  most  notable  feature  of  the  meeting, 
"  fehcitous  in  phrase,  tender  in  feeling,  discriminating  in 
appreciation,  and  deUvered  with  admirable  ease  and  oratori- 
cal effect,"  Though  sealed  of  the  tribe  of  Mill  and  dis- 
agreeing both  with  Carlyle's  opinions  and  methods  of 
thought,  he  never  ceased  to  admire  the  moral  fervour,  the 
piercing  insight  and  the  rugged  independence  of  the  old 
prophet.  "  Every  man  and  woman  experiences  a  time 
when  the  ordinary  life  seems  to  fail  and  a  new  life  springs 
up  within  them,  and  they  have  their  feet  firmly  planted 
in  a  large  room  and  their  vision  and  conception  of  the 
world's  history  undergoes  a  change.  This  is  what  some 
of  us  owed  to  him.  I  believe  his  readers  increase  year  by 
year  and  the  circle  of  his  influence  extends.  Nearly  forty 
years  ago  I  made  a  pilgrimage  to  Craigenputtock,  and  more 
recently  to  Haddington,  Grateful  as  I  am  to  him,  pro- 
foundly as  I  respect  him,  I  was  never  his  slave.  In  his  want 
of  sensibility  to  his  wife  and  in  her  proud  silences  you  see 
something  more  interesting  than  is  to  be  fouled  in  any  novel. 
Wherever  manhood  is  respected,  wherever  courage  and 
worth  are  honoured,  wherever  gratitude  is  felt  towards  one 
who,  coming  with  a  coal  of  fire  to  touch  our  lips,  brings  us 
again  within  the  world  of  spirits,  this  movement  has  a 

On  December  4,  1895,  the  centenary  of  Carlyle's  birth, 
Courtney  took  part  in  the  formal  opening  of  the  House  as 
a  museum.     Mr.  Morley,  who  was  in  the  chair,  declared 

310  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

that  the  popular  title  of  the  Sage  of  Chelsea  was  singularly 
inappUcable  to  the  old  prophet  and  preacher ;  but  that 
if  he  had  to  find  a  man  who  deserved  it,  he  would  not 
have  far  to  look.  The  recipient  of  this  generous  tribute 
retained  his  interest  in  the  house  till  his  death,  and  was 
never  tired  of  conducting  friends  and  visitors  through  its 

In  addition  to  taking  his  share  in  the  excursions  and 
alarums  of  party  politics  Courtney's  mind  was  occupied 
with  other  grave  problems  of  national  warfare.  The 
recurrence  of  industrial  and  agricultural  depression  forced 
statesmen  and  economists  to  search  for  its  causes  and 
remedies  ;  and  some  turned  to  Bimetallism  as  others  to 
Protection.  The  contention  that  two  metals  would  vary 
less  than  one  was  presented  to  the  House  of  Commons  at 
the  beginning  of  the  session  of  1893  ;  and  the  debate  was 
rendered  memorable  by  a  brilliant  rejoinder  from  the  Prime 
Minister.  The  veteran  financier  argued  that  though  gold 
varied,  it  varied  less  than  silver,  and  that,  though  such 
variation  affected  fixed  incomes  and  fixed  charges,  it  con- 
cerned ordinary  bujdng  and  selling  in  a  very  minor  degree. 
His  main  theme,  however,  was  the  practical  difficulty 
involved  in  the  change.  Bimetallism,  he  declared,  would 
enable  debtors  to  cheat  their  creditors  by  discharging 
their  debts  in  a  depreciated  currency ;  and  if  such  an 
alteration  was  threatened  every  creditor  would  at  once 
insist  on  full  repayment  in  gold. 

The  speech  led  Courtney  to  expound  his  views  in  an 
article  entitled  "  BimetaUism  Once  More,"  which  appeared 
in  the  Nineteenth  Century  and  attracted  considerable  atten- 
tion. As  a  debating  achievement,  he  began,  Gladstone's 
performance  was  miraculous,  and  the  yoimgest  might  have 
envied  its  vivacity.  Its  tone  was  rightly  conservative,  for 
changes  should  only  be  made  if  more  injustice  is  involved 
in  inaction.  "  I  now  for  the  first  time  venture  to  put  forth 
some  opinions  of  my  own,  not  until  after  much  hesitation, 
and  only  under  the  cogency  of  a  beUef  that  there  is  a  serious 
argument  worthy  of  being  examined."  He  had  indeed 
already  examined  it.     "  I  was  one  of  the  six  members  of  the 

^^^^uX  ca   ^    <2^^    ^^^^4^*P 

To  face  pa^e  310. 


Gold  and  Silver  Commission  who  could  not  recommend 
bimetallism,  and  who  traced  the  recent  fall  in  prices  rather 
to  causes  touching  the  commodities  than  to  the  appreciation 
of  gold.  We  added  that  we  were  far  from  denying  that 
there  might  have  been  some  appreciation,  though  we  could 
not  determine  its  extent.  Let  me  make  a  confession.  I 
hesitated  a  little  about  this  paragraph.  I  thought  there 
was  perhaps  more  in  the  suggestion  than  my  colleagues 
believed.  I  am  now  satisfied  that  the  appreciation  was 
greater  than  I  then  suspected."  Turning  to  Gladstone's 
contention  that  gold  had  varied  but  httle,  he  rejoins  that 
incessant  variations  in  its  purchasing  power  were  revealed 
in  the  index  numbers.  For  instance  between  1850  and 
1864,  during  the  gold  discoveries,  prices  rose  30  per  cent, 
and  between  1873  and  1893  fell  30  per  cent.  Therefore 
gold,  measured  by  its  command  of  commodities,  was  not  a 
stable  standard.  If  the  cause  of  variation  lay  in  the  condi- 
tions governing  the  production  of  commodities,  why  did 
the  ciurrent  flow  so  powerfully  first  in  one  direction  and 
then  in  the  other  ?  In  recent  years  we  had  been  passing 
through  a  period  of  appreciation,  and  no  one  could  tell  how 
long  it  would  last.  Silver,  on  the  other  hand,  had  remained 
steady  in  relation  to  commodities,  falling  Hke  them,  but  no 
faster.  If  gold  was  as  unstable  as  silver  and  had  hampered 
industry  and  commerce  by  its  recent  appreciation,  men 
might  well  ask.  Why  not  go  back  to  the  days  before  1873 
when  the  members  of  the  Latin  Union  recognised  both 
metals  as  legal  tender  ?  Accounts  could  then  be  paid  in 
doUars  or  francs,  pounds  or  rupees  indifferently ;  for  their 
ratio  was  fixed,  and  the  variations  of  exchange  were  not 
beyond  the  narrow  limits  of  the  cost  of  transmitting  bullion. 
The  effects  of  the  depreciation  or  appreciation  of  either 
metal  were  minimised,  since  they  were  diffused  over  the 
widest  area.  With  the  rupture  of  the  bimetallic  tie  the 
ratio  had  changed  enormously.  "  Five  years  ago  I  joined 
in  deprecating  any  attempt  to  establish  an  international 
agreement  for  the  free  coinage  of  gold  and  silver.  I  have 
advanced  with  further  experience  and  reflection  to  the  beUef 
that  it  is  to  be  desired."     If  we  adopted  Bimetallism  most 

312  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Powers  would  follow,  though  the  fixing  of  the  ratio  might 
prove  a  difficult  task. 

The  heretic  returned  to  the  charge  at  the  end  of  the 
session,  when  Mr.  ChapUn  attacked  the  Government  for 
sanctioning  the  closing  of  the  Indian  mints  to  the  free 
coinage  of  silver.  In  reply  Harcourt  sheltered  himself 
behind  the  Report  of  the  Royal  Commission  of  1888,  which 
pointed  out  the  danger  of  Bimetallism  in  India.  Courtney, 
who  had  been  claimed  by  the  opener  as  a  recent  convert, 
rose  to  correct  Harcourt's  statement  that  Lord  Herschell 
and  his  colleagues  had  condemned  Bimetallism.  Ten  of 
the  twelve  members  were  convinced  of  the  possibiUty  of 
maintaining  an  international  ratio  between  gold  and  silver  ; 
but  Bimetalhsm  was  not  before  them.  They  were  simply 
asked  whether  there  was  any  reason  for  rejecting  the  pro- 
posals of  the  Indian  Government.  As  a  matter  of  fact  the 
Indian  Government  would  have  preferred  Bimetallism,  and 
only  proposed  to  stop  the  free  coinage  of  rupees  as  a  pis 
alley,  in  order  to  limit  the  quantity  and  keep  the  ratio  steady. 
Lord  Herschell  and  his  colleagues  assented  to  this  demand, 
and  the  faU  of  the  rupee  was  arrested.  Courtney's  leaning 
to  BimetaUism  was  shared  by  Mr.  Balfour,  and  to  some 
degree  by  Goschen ;  but  most  of  the  economists  were 
against  them,  and  there  was  little  prospect  of  securing 
international  co-operation.  A  change  of  such  disturbing 
magnitude  could  only  be  made  under  the  compulsion  of  bad 
times  ;  and  as  the  horizon  brightened  the  cry  died  away. 

A  new  and  important  task  was  undertaken  in  the  spring 
of  1893  in  accepting  the  invitation  to  preside  over  a  Royal 
Commission  on  London  Government.  Among  his  colleagues 
was  an  old  and  valued  friend  who  had  sat  with  him  on  the 
Gold  and  Silver  Commission. 

To  Lord  Farrer 

March  26,  1893. — I  hope  London  will  not  prove  as  difficult 
as  silver  ;  but  it  cannot  be  very  easy.  The  exact  reference  has 
not  yet  been  given  me  ;  but  I  understand  it  is  to  devise  a  plan 
for  bringing  the  City  and  the  County  Council  into  one,  at  least 
for  larger  purposes.     I  rejoice  we  are  only  five. 


The  work  was  congenial  but  laborious,  for  the  road  was 
encumbered  by  vested  interests. 

To  Sir  John  Scott 

February  2, 1894. — I  have  the  London  Unification  Commission 
now  in  hand, — a  troublesome  job,  the  City  being  in  temper  and 
mind  most  difficult  to  handle,  perhaps  not  so  bad  as  a  young 
Khedive.  Though  we,  the  Commissioners,  may  propound  a 
fair  solution,  I  doubt  whether  Parhament  under  any  Government 
would  soon  take  it  up  and  carry  it  through. 

The  Report  appeared  in  the  early  autumn  of  1894  and 
was  received  with  a  chorus  of  approval.  "  Have  you  not 
been  very  proud  and  happy  lately  ?  "  wrote  Mrs.  Bamett 
to  Mrs.  Courtney.  "To  do  such  a  job,  and  to  do  it  so 
wisely  that  all  sorts  say  '  Well  done,'  is  a  triumph." 

From  Lord  Farrer 

October  3,  1894. — From  what  I  heard  at  the  L.C.C.  I  think 
you  might  be  the  first  Lord  Mayor  of  United  London.  I  say 
this  in  spite  of  Bimetallism  ! 

The  Government  which  appointed  the  Commission  fell 
before  it  could  carry  out  its  recommendations  ;  and  the 
Chairman  had  to  wait  till  1899  to  reap  some  of  the  fruits 
of  his  labours.  While  busily  engaged  on  the  problem  of 
London  government  Courtney  continued  his  attendance  at 
the  Royal  Commission  on  Labour,  which  had  been  appointed 
in  1890  under  the  Chairmanship  of  Lord  Hartington  and 
accumulated  vast  masses  of  miscellaneous  information. 
He  approached  his  task  with  a  deep  distrust  of  short  cuts 
to  reform,  which  was  strengthened  as  witness  after  witness 
marched  across  the  stage  and  paraded  his  panacea. 

To  Sir  John  Scott 

February  2,  1894. — I  am  anxious  about  the  future  of  the 
Poor  Law.  Many  wild  ideas  are  about.  My  attitude  threatens 
now  to  give  me  trouble  in  my  constituency,  especially  as  a  phrase 
of  mine  has  been  twisted  into  a  charge  against  labourers  that 

314  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

their  highest  ambition  is  to  get  outdoor  relief.  This  we  may 
hope  to  survive ;  but  a  flabby  sociaHsm  working  through  the 
machinery  of  the  Poor  Law  may  do  infinite  mischief  to  the 
nation.  As  to  the  Labour  Commission,  we  shall  have  done  much 
good  work  in  collecting  and  arranging  evidence,  and  the  Report 
of  the  great  majority  will  be  full  of  good  sense  ;  but  as  it  will 
be  more  negative  than  positive,  exposing  the  futihty  of  many 
suggestions  and  supporting  few,  it  may  be  received  with  a  feeling 
of  disappointment. 

The  session  of  1895  opened  with  dissolution  in  the  air. 
Courtney  dined  with  the  leader  of  the  Liberal  Unionists  at 
Devonshire  House,  and  found  some  of  his  friends  expecting 
the  Government  to  be  defeated  on  the  Address.  On  the 
last  day  of  the  debate  he  informed  the  Ministers  that  they 
had  exhausted  their  authority  and  should  go  to  the  country 
on  Home  Rule.  If  they  preferred  to  remain  in  office,  they 
should  stick  to  humdrum  legislation.  The  claim  of  the 
House  of  Commons,  and  especially  of  a  feeble,  uncertain 
majority,  to  represent  the  nation  was  imjustified  ;  for  the 
nation  was  represented  by  the  two  Houses  jointly.  If, 
however,  the  Prime  Minister  desired  to  fight  on  the  issue 
of  the  Lords,  his  opponents  would  gladly  take  up  the  chal- 
lenge. Despite  this  vigorous  attack  the  support  of  Liberal 
measures  in  1893  and  1894  rendered  him  an  object  of  sus- 
picion to  some  of  his  Conservative  constituents.  He  had 
no  complaint  to  make  of  such  criticisms,  to  which  his  creed 
inevitably  exposed  its  adherents ;  but  he  declined  to 
purchase  the  retention  of  his  seat  by  the  sacrifice  of  a  jot 
or  tittle  of  independence,  and  made  it  clear  that  if  his 
views  were  disapproved  he  must  seek  another  constituency. 
Lord  Moimt  Edgcmnbe,  though  himself  a  critic,  implored 
him  to  promise  to  remain,  assuring  him  that  if  he  would 
stick  to  the  constituency  his  constituents  would  stand  by 

From  Lord  Mount  Edgcumbe 

April  18. — ^The  arguments  I  should  use  in  support  of  your 
candidature  would  be  (i)  that  no  one  could  uphold  the  interests 
of  the  constituency  with  greater  abihty  or  less  self-seeking ; 
(2)  that  you  are  as  straight  as  a  die,  and  make  no  professions 


that  you  will  not  carry  out ;  (3)  that  you  are  thoroughly  staunch 
on  Home  Rule.  The  crossing  of  the  stream  cannot  be  far  off, 
and  a  change  of  horses  now  would  be  a  great  misfortune,  involv- 
ing not  only  the  uncertainty  of  finding  another  candidate,  but 
probably  also  opening  up  the  embittering  question  of  whether 
the  seat  is  to  be  regarded  as  Conservative  or  Liberal  Unionist. 

The  correspondence  was  closed  by  a  cordial  letter  from 
Cheyne  Walk. 

To  Lord  Mount  Edgcumbe 

April  29,  1895. — I  am  much  obUged  by  your  letter,  which 
is  very  pleasant  reading  to  me.  I  wiU  not  desert  the  constituency 
as  long  as,  retaining  the  freedom  I  have  exercised  in  the  past, 
I  am  assured  of  the  hearty  support  of  your  pohtical  friends. 
It  was  the  uncertain  or  even  unfriendly  attitude  of  some  of  those 
that  tempted  me  to  consider  other  suggestions.  I  hope  you 
will  have  no  difficulty  at  your  meeting.  I  tried  to  make  it  plain 
at  Liskeard  as  well  as  at  Plymouth  and  elsewhere  that  I  claimed 
a  continued  allowance  of  freedom,  and  if  the  members  of  the 
Council,  having  my  speech  before  them,  are  of  your  mind  and 
spirit,  there  will  be  no  thought  on  my  part  of  leaving  the  division. 



Before  the  session  of  1895  was  more  than  a  month  old  an 
event  occurred  which  closely  concerned  Courtney's  fortunes, 
and  which  for  a  few  crowded  hours  seemed  likely  to  deter- 
mine the  remainder  of  his  public  career. 


Saturday,  March  9. — Leonard  picks  up  the  Times  before 
going  out  to  the  Breakfast  Club  and  reads  out  the  startling 
news  that  the  Speaker  is  to  resign  immediately,  as  soon  as  a 
successor  can  be  agreed  upon.  Who  will  it  be  ?  Though  it 
might  and  would  be  mortifying  to  be  passed  over,  we  do  not 
want  it.  But  of  course  there  is  no  danger,  as  the  Times  leader 
says  that  some  member  of  the  Ministerial  party  will  have  that 
splendid  post.  The  difficulty  is  that  there  is  no  obviously  good 
name  outside  the  Government.  Inside  Campbell-Bannerman 
is  the  favourite.  Sir  Robert  Reid  and  Arnold  Morley  are  also 
mentioned.  The  Westminster  Gazette  heads  for  Leonard,  but 
fears  the  Government  must  have  one  of  their  own  party.  My 
feelings  are  very  mixed,  but  I  feel  very  sad  at  the  possibility 
of  giving  up  our  present  hfe.  We  are  both  ridiculously  fond  of 
our  home  and  our  freedom.  "  Rather  Uke  being  dead  and 
buried,"  said  L.  to  Mr.  Roby,  who  replied,  "  But  with  a  splendid 

The  Speaker  had  always  been  chosen  by  the  party  in 
power  from  the  ranks  of  its  supporters,  but  in  the  present 
instance  the  Government  had  no  candidate  obviously 
qualified  for  the  post,  and  the  failure  of  Mr.  Mellor,  the 




Chairman  of  Committees  during  the  1892  ParUament,  threw 
into  strong  relief  the  vigorous  reign  of  his  predecessor. 
Moreover,  though  Courtney  remained  one  of  the  most  con- 
vinced and  formidable  enemies  of  Home  Rule,  he  had 
rendered  the  Liberal  Party  valuable  support  with  the  rest 
of  their  programme.  For  this  very  reason,  however,  he 
was  unacceptable  to  the  Opposition,  who  confidently 
expected  to  be  installed  in  office  within  a  few  months  and 
naturally  desired  a  Conservative  to  occupy  the  Chair. 
Under  these  circumstances  the  sudden  resignation  of  Speaker 
Peel  on  the  ground  of  health  created  a  personal  issue  of  the 
kind  which  enthrals  the  House  of  Commons  and  sets  every 
tongue  in  the  poUtical  world  and  in  "  society  "  wagging. 
The  Liberal  Press  spoke  out  strongly  for  Courtney. 
"  Whether  chosen  or  not,"  wrote  the  Daily  Chronicle, 
"  there  is  only  one  opinion  that  he  ought  to  be."  The  Daily 
News  appealed  to  the  undisputed  fact  that  he  had  proved 
himself  by  far  the  best  Chairman  of  Committees  of  his 
generation.  The  Times,  on  the  other  hand,  while  praising 
his  ability,  knowledge  and  inflexible  fairness,  argued  that 
he  was  only  a  httle  younger  than  the  retiring  Speaker,  that 
he  could  scarcely  bear  the  burden  for  more  than  a  few  years, 
and  that  frequent  changes  in  the  occupancy  of  the  Chair 
were  undesirable.  The  situation  developed  rapidly,  and 
there  seemed  every  chance  of  a  contested  election  for  the 
first  time  since  1839. 


Monday,  March  11. — Lobbies  and  newspapers  full  of  gossip. 
It  soon  becomes  apparent  that  the  opposition  to  him  comes 
from  the  Conservatives,  with  a  few  Radicals.  The  Tory  favourite 
is  Sir  Matthew  White  Ridley,  a  sensible,  pleasant -tempered 

Tuesday. — Go  to  my  W.L.U.  Committee.  I  am  an  interesting 
person.  All  my  ladies  look  sympathetic  but  say  nothing. 
Lady  Frances  Balfour  comes  away  with  me.  She  feels  sure 
that  L.  is  the  Ministerial  choice,  but  warns  me  that  there  is 
mischief  ahead  among  the  Conservatives  and  that  L.  must  not 
accept  nomination  without  an  understanding  from  the  Con- 
servative leaders  that  they  will  not  oppose  him  in  a  future 

3i8  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Parliament.  The  situation  is  no  doubt  difficult,  the  Govern- 
ment with  a  very  narrow  majority,  the  Tory  party  not  recognising 
L.  as  one  of  themselves.  Mr.  Chamberlain  did  not  approve  of 
L.'s  refusal  of  closure  and  probably  thinks  he  would  be  a  wrong- 
headed  Speaker. 

Wednesday. — Come  home  from  Lord  Brassey's  to  find  one 
word  from  John  Morley  to  me.     It  murders  sleep. 

From  John  Morley 

95  Elm  Park  Gardens, 
March  13,  '95. 
Very  secret. 

Dear  Mrs.  Courtney, 

Yours,  J.  M. 

Thursday,  March  14. — ^Telegram  from  Harcourt  asking 
L.  to  come  and  see  him  in  Downing  Street.  He  says,  "  It  may 
seem  absurd,  but  I  am  in  despair  at  leaving  this  house."  Yet 
I  see  the  opposition  is  making  him  tend  to  accept.  After 
breakfast  I  go  to  see  John  Morley,  who  kindly  told  me  a  good 
deal.  "  The  Cabinet  had  decided  against  one  of  their  number, 
though  C.-B.  would  hke  it."  I  asked  if  it  would  not  be  a  relief 
to  them  for  L.  to  refuse  it.  "  No,  it  would  put  them  in  a  great 
fix.  They  would  not  accept  a  Conservative  candidate.  Why 
should  not  L.  take  it  ?  He  was  the  best  man,  and  we  should 
get  used  to  it  and  in  a  few  months  we  should  not  mind  the  routine. 
What  else  will  he  do  ?  Of  course  the  Conservatives  would  ask 
him  to  join  their  next  Cabinet ;  but  would  he  feel  comfortable 
among  them  ?  "  I  asked  about  the  opposition  to  L.  He  said 
on  their  side  it  was  small  and  would  collapse  directly  the 
Government  announced  their  decision  formally.  No  arrange- 
ments had  been  come  to  with  the  Tories,  but  of  course  L.  would 
see  the  Duke  of  Devonshire,  and  of  course  he  and  Chamberlain 
would  insist  on  their  alUes  behaving  decently  to  one  of  their 
leading  men. 

Courtney's  engagement  with  Harcourt  was  for  2  o'clock, 
and  his  first  instinct  was  to  consult  his  old  leader.  On 
reaching  Devonshire  House,  however,  he  was  informed  that 
the  Duke  was  closeted  with  Lord  Salisbury  and  Mr.  Chamber- 
lain, and  would  see  him  later  on  at  the  House.  Harcourt, 
as  he  expected,  offered  him  the  nomination  and  pressed  for 


an  immediate  decision,  which  was  naturally  refused.  Meet- 
ing the  Duke  at  the  House  he  learned  that  the  Tories  would 
oppose  now,  and  again  in  the  next  Parliament.  "  I  suppose 
you  are  too  impartial  for  them.  They  are  getting  very 
confident  of  a  big  majority  when  the  election  comes,  and  it 
may  not  be  easy  to  form  a  CoaUtion  Government.  How 
would  you  Hke  to  find  yourself  a  Viscount  in  three  months  ?  " 
The  Duke  was  certainly  not  encouraging,  and  Chamberlain, 
the  next  friend  to  be  consulted,  merely  remarked  that  the 
matter  would  be  discussed  at  a  meeting  of  the  Liberal 
Unionist  members.  From  Chamberlain  Courtney  passed 
to  the  room  of  the  Leader  of  the  Opposition,  who  did  not 
mince  matters.  His  candidature,  declared  Mr.  Balfour, 
would  be  opposed  by  the  Conservatives  now,  and  the 
Opposition  would  probably  be  renewed  in  the  next  Parha- 
ment.  He  was  shocked  that  he  should  think  of  such  a  post, 
when  he  was  doing  work  of  such  value  as  an  independent 
member ;  and  he  dehcately  hinted  that  he  was  too  old  for 
the  post.  After  this  douche  of  cold  water  he  determined 
not  to  stand,  and  on  the  following  morning  he  informed  the 
Leader  of  the  House  of  his  decision. 

To  Sir  William  Harcourt 

March  15. — I  was  getting  over  my  first  aversion  in  the 
thought  that  I  might  perhaps  do  some  good  in  this  of&ce,  but 
I  find  my  six  years'  service  in  the  subordinate  Chair  has  not 
commanded  general  satisfaction  and  there  would  be  strenuous 
opposition  now  and  if  necessary  hereafter.  In  these  circum- 
stances my  old  feeling  revives  with  invincible  strength.  I 
hope  this  will  not  give  you  much  trouble  ;  and  in  dismissing 
the  subject  I  must  again  thank  you  for  the  very  kind  way  you 
proposed  it. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

March  16. — I  told  Harcourt  yesterday  that  I  could  not  accept 
his  offer.  There  was  every  prospect,  indeed  a  certainty  of  united 
Conservative  opposition,  and  I  was  told  also  that  the  opposition, 
if  unsuccessful  now,  would  be  renewed  in  a  new  Parliament. 
This  threat  might  not  be  carried  out,  but  one  could  not  be  sure. 
Accordingly  I  declined,  and  it  is  a  great  relief  to  us,  to  Kate 

320  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

as  much  as  myself,  if  not  more — but  we  axe  both  vexed  at  the 
way  the  reUef  has  come.  The  Conservatives  are  very  small 

His  decision  was  received  with  mixed  feelings  by  his 

From  William  Rathbone  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

March  15. — I  was  very  sorry  to  hear  that  Courtney  had 
dechned  a  contest  for  the  Speaker's, — very  sorrj'^  for  the  House ; 
but  for  him  there  will  be  much  to  be  said  for  not  being  buried 
alive  in  the  prime  of  his  intellect  and  energies  which  I  trust  may 
do  great  things  for  the  country.  Harcourt's  opinion  is  that 
he  was  the  best  Chairman  of  the  House  he  in  his  long  experi- 
ence had  ever  seen.  I  don't  know  if  I  told  you  that  dining 
with  Gladstone  at  Dollis  Hill  a  few  days  after  Courtney  had 
called  him  very  peremptorily  to  order  he  broke  out  into  enthusi- 
astic praise  of  his  clear,  quick,  just  judgment,  firmness  and 
impartiality ;  and  Harcourt,  whom  Courtney  had  called  to 
order  oftener  than  most,  entirely  agreed  with  him.  Indeed 
I  think  all  our  front  bench  agree  and  will  be  very  much  dis- 
appointed. A  man  may  be  too  just  and  strong  for  mean  men 
and  must  take  the  consequences  which  in  this  case  will,  I  hope 
and  beheve,  be  for  his  happiness,  usefulness  and  fame. 

From  Sir  Henry  James  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

March  20. — Your  husband  and  I  have  been  too  long  in  close 
aUiance  for  me  not  to  recognise  all  his  sterling  good  quaUties, 
and  his  candidature  would  have  had  no  sincerer  supporter  than 

From  T.  B.  Bolitho  {M.P.  for  West  Cornwall) 
to  Mrs.  Courtney 

March  20. — Thank  you  very  much  for  your  confidence. 
You  must  have  had  a  trying  ten  days,  but  I  can  easily  understand 
that  the  chief  person  concerned,  having  done  that  which  he 
thought  best  for  the  interests  of  the  House,  remains  calm, 
dignified  and  unsoured  even  by  unexpected  defections.  Of  all 
men  in  the  House  I  know  of  no  one  so  unhkely  as  your  husband 
to  resort  to  the  pernicious  system  of  lobbying.  The  attitude 
of  the  Conservatives  is  perhaps  not  unnatural,  but  if  they  don't 


take  care  they  will  jeopardise  the  relations  between  themselves 
and  the  Liberal  Unionists.  I've  been  burning  with  indignation 
at  the  report  that  many — or  even  any — Liberal  Unionists  should 
be  opposed  to  your  husband.  If  any  of  our  Leaders  have  been 
secretly  undermining  his  chance,  I  for  one  am  quite  ready  to 
denounce  such  action. 

From  Mrs.  Meinertzhagen  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

I  am  so  glad  Leonard  has  refused  to  be  in  a  competition  for 
the  Speakership.  He  ought  to  have  it  as  a  matter  of  course. 
That  comes  of  helping  those  horrid,  ungrateful  Tories.  You'll 
see  they'll  throw  all  the  Liberal  Unionists  on  one  side,  whenever 
they  can  stand  on  their  legs  without  them.  I  hope  the  Liberals 
will  stick  to  their  man  and  not  give  the  nomination  over  to  the 
Tories.  I  hope  they'll  find  Leonard  less  pleasant  out  of  the 
Chair  than  he  would  have  been  in  it. 

From  Lady  Frances  Balfour  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

I  think,  and  have  thought,  and  have  said,  that  the  Con- 
servatives have  made  a  mistake  in  this  matter,  a  mistake  they 
will  pay  for.  Arthur  could  not  but  tell  the  facts  to  Mr.  Courtney. 
There  was  opposition  from  all  quarters  of  the  House.  I  don't 
think  he  did  think  him  the  right  man  for  the  Chair,  but  apart 
from  that,  it  was  his  business  to  find  out,  and  I  know  long  before 
the  Government  spoke  to  Mr.  Courtney  he  was  made  aware 
that  it  would  not  be  unopposed.  Your  husband  has  had  his 
own  theories  as  to  a  Chairman's  duty,  and  it  may  be  summed  up 
roughly  in  this  way,  "  the  protection  of  the  minority."  Now  we 
all  know  that  when  Chairman  it  was  from  this  point  of  view  he  was 
steadily  and  persistently  criticised.  He  knew  it — it  was  matter 
of  public  comment  how  good-humouredly  unmoved  he  was  when 
made  aware  (say  at  a  dinner  party)  of  the  strong  feeling  he  had 
excited.  He  took  that  view  of  his  post,  and  everyone  respected 
his  sticking  to  his  views ;  but  he  never  persuaded  the  people 
he  was  right,  he  only  convinced  them  he  had  a  strong  individuality 
and  was  no  respecter  of  persons.  You  must  pay  for  individuality, 
and  this  opposition  is  the  pa5mient. 

After  receiving  the  condolences  or  congratulations  of 
his  friends  for  a  week,  Courtney  once  more  found  himself  in 
the  world's  gaze.  His  refusal  to  stand  had  completely  up- 
set the  plans  of  the  Government,  who  naturally  declined  to 


322  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

accept  a  Tory  Speaker  and  had  no  suitable  candidate  of 
their  own,  since  Campbell-Bannerman,  who  wished  for  the 
post,  could  not  be  spared.  They  therefore  informally 
renewed  the  offer,  after  preparing  the  way  by  a  visit  from 
John  Morley.  The  Chief  Secretary  pressed  his  old  friend 
to  accept,  assuring  him  of  an  undivided  Ministerial  vote 
except  for  a  handful  of  malcontents  led  by  Labouchere, 
whose  defection  would  be  offset  by  Liberal  Unionist  support. 
Courtney  thereupon  marched  off  to  Downing  Street  and 
promised  Harcourt  an  answer  in  a  day  or  two.  His  position 
now  was  that  if  the  Liberal  Unionists  not  only  promised 
to  vote  for  him  if  he  stood  but  actually  wished  him  to  stand, 
he  would  accept  the  nomination. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

March  23. — Just  a  line  to  keep  you  in  the  running.  The 
Government  are  pressing  me  in  many  ways  to  consent  to  be 
nominated,  and  so  are  some  Liberal  Unionists.  The  situation 
has  moreover  changed  now  Campbell-Bannerman  is  withdrawn, 
and  the  Government  nevertheless  will  not  accept  White  Ridley. 
So  I  wrote  Chamberlain  yesterday  afternoon  asking  him  to  call 
our  party  together,  and  I  would  abide  absolutely  by  their 

To  Joseph  Chamberlain 

March  22. — I  am  much  pressed  to  reconsider  my  refusal  to 
be  proposed  for  the  Speakership.  The  offer  is  not  attractive 
to  me,  though  I  am  assured  and  may  be  inclined  to  believe  that 
I  could  be  of  use  in  it ;  but  the  discussions  and  criticisms  of  the 
last  ten  days  have  produced  a  reaction  so  that  I  am  not  unwilling 
to  accept  what  I  am  still  far  from  coveting.  I  desire  however 
to  be  guided  by  the  judgment  of  our  party.  I  would  ask  you 
therefore  to  call  the  Liberal  Unionist  members  together  and  put 
the  matter  before  them.  Many  things  could  be  said  and  argu- 
ments used  which  could  not  perhaps  be  easily  addressed  to 
myself,  and  they  (the  Liberal  Unionists  members)  would  be  able 
to  determine  without  prejudice  what  is  best.  I  am  prepared  to 
abide  absolutely  by  their  decision. 

P.S. — It  must  not  be  supposed  that  the  Government  have 
asked  me  again  to  allow  my  name  to  be  put  forward,  but  I  have 
reason  to  think  that  if  I  were  ready  to  consent  an  invitation 
would  be  forthcoming. 


To  Joseph  Chamberlain 

March  24. — A  complaint  may  be  raised  at  the  meeting  of  our 
friends  to-morrow  that  I  have  thrown  a  great  responsibility 
on  them,  without  indicating  upon  what  considerations  I  would 
have  them  base  their  decision.  I  hope  they  will  decide  upon 
pubUc  grounds  alone.  Any  private  interest  or  supposed  private 
interest  of  mine  is  of  the  smallest  importance  compared  with 
the  public  interests  involved  and  must  not  be  allowed  to  govern 
their  decision.     I  am  giving  you  a  good  deal  of  trouble. 

The  meeting  of  the  Liberal  Unionists  was  held  on  Monday, 
March  25  ;  but  as  the  notice  was  short  the  attendance  was 
small.  The  meeting  decided  against  the  candidature,  and 
in  the  course  of  the  afternoon  a  brief  telegram  ("  No  ! 
Leonard  ")  announced  the  news  to  Cheyne  Walk.  Before 
walking  home  he  despatched  the  news  to  Penzance. 

To  his  sister  Margaret 

You  will  probably  see  the  news  in  the  W.M.N. ,  but  I  must 
write  a  line  before  going  home  to  Kate — I  should  be  too  late 
there.  The  Liberal  Unionist  members  to-day  decided  unani- 
mously against  any  Liberal  Unionist  standing  in  opposition  to 
M.  W.  Ridley ;  and  this  ends  the  matter.  It  is  a  great  relief 
to  have  it  over. 

The  result  of  the  meeting  was  formally  communicated  the 
same  evening  by  its  Chairman. 

From  Joseph  Chamberlain 

March  25. — A  meeting  of  the  Liberal  Unionist  members 
was  held  here  this  afternoon  in  accordance  with  your  request, 
and  your  two  letters  were  laid  before  them.  The  subject  was 
fully  discussed  with  sole  reference  to  the  great  pubHc  interests 
involved,  and  the  following  resolution  was  unanimously  passed : 

That  this  meeting  of  the  Liberal  Unionist  members  of 
ParUament,  being  informed  that  Sir  M.  White  Ridley  will  be 
nominated  for  the  Speakership  by  their  Conservative  allies, 
is  of  opinion  that  the  name  of  no  Liberal  Unionist  candidate 
should  be  submitted  in  opposition. 

In  forwarding  this  Resolution,  which  was  arrived  at  in 
response  to  your  desire  and  is  guided  by  the  judgment  of  your 

324  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

party,  I  am  unanimously  requested  to  express  to  you  at  the 
SEime  time  the  high  estimation  in  which  you  are  held  by  all  your 
colleagues  and  their  sense  of  the  patriotic  spirit  with  which 
you  have  been  ready  to  subordinate  personal  claims  to  wider 
considerations  of  pubHc  interest. 

An  unofficial  account  of  the  meeting  was  despatched  to 
Chelsea  the  same  evening. 

From  T.  B.  Bolitho  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

March  25. — You  will  have  heard  all  about  it.  A  small  meeting, 
about  twenty — everything  said  of  your  husband  which  could  be 
desired.  For  the  resolution  all  but  four  or  five  voted.  Of 
course  no  good  could  have  come  of  moving  an  amendment. 

After  the  final  decision  letters  of  condolence  and  regret 
again  poured  in,  from  Home  Rulers  no  less  than  Unionists. 

From  W.  S.  Caine  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

March  28. — I  cannot  trace  the  devious  paths  by  which 
Mr.  Courtney  has  been  diverted  from  the  Speakership  for  which 
he  was  designated  by  every  member  of  the  House  who  has  the 
true  interests  of  Parliament  at  heart ;  but  I  would  Uke,  if  I 
may,  to  tell  you  how  keenly  and  bitterly  disappointed  I  am  at 
the  result,  and  how  impossible  it  appears  to  me  to  find  any 
worthy  successor  to  Mr.  Peel  apart  from  Mr.  Courtney.  I 
believe,  even  in  spite  of  the  unhappy  decision  of  the  party  leaders 
with  whom  he  is  associated,  if  your  husband  could  have  seen  his 
way  to  accept  nomination,  all  opposition  would  have  faded 
away,  and  his  would  eventually  have  been  the  only  name  sub- 
mitted to  the  House.  Even  if  it  had  been  otherwise,  he  would 
have  been  elected  by  a  very  large  majority.  Every  member 
whose  opinion  is  worth  having  among  the  Liberal  party  has 
been  soHdly  for  Mr.  Courtney  all  along,  and  I  wish  I  were  able 
to  convey  to  you  the  profound  esteem  and  respect  in  which  your 
husband  is  everywhere  held  in  all  quarters  of  the  House.  To 
me  personally  it  will  be  a  matter  of  hfelong  regret  that  the 
House  has  lost  a  Speaker  whose  term  of  office  would  have  been 
historic,  and  who  I  fear  is  the  only  man  who  could  have  piloted 
us  with  prosperity  and  dignity  through  the  troubled  waters 
through  which  we  must  sail  in  the  early  future.  However 
I  can  only  hope  that  Mr.  Courtney  is  reserved  for  even  higher 
service  to  the  State. 


A  different  view  was  expressed  in  a  letter  from  the 
Manager  of  the  Times,  which  had  opposed  his  candidature 

From  C.  Moberly  Bell  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

April  3. — Rightly  or  wrongly  I  felt  that  your  husband  would 
be  wasted  as  the  Speaker.  It  is  a  very  honourable  position — 
of  great  influence  in  the  House,  but  of  no  influence  at  all  outside. 
Witness  the  fact  that  even  to-day  they  can't  decide  whether 
Mr.  Peel  was  a  Liberal  Unionist  or  a  Gladstonian.  AU  this  is 
as  it  should  be  ;  but  people  who  have  definite  opinions,  who  do 
not  vote  aye  or  no  solely  according  to  party,  are  so  unfortunately 
rare  that  it  seems  to  me  preposterous  to  choose  one  of  those  few 
and  place  him  where  it  becomes  his  duty  to  suppress  all  his 
personal  convictions. 

After  Courtney's  second  and  final  refusal  of  the  nomina- 
tion, the  Government  fell  back  on  Mr.  Gully,  who,  though 
a  popular  K.C.  on  the  Northern  Circuit,  was  said  never  to 
have  spoken  in  the  House  or  sat  on  any  Committee.  The 
final  scene  in  the  drama  took  place  when  the  Commons  met 
on  April  10  to  choose  a  new  Speaker.  "  After  Mr.  Whit- 
bread  and  Mr.  Birrell  had  duly  proposed  and  seconded 
Mr.  Gully,  and  Sir  John  Mowbray  and  Mr.  Wharton  had 
done  the  same  for  Sir  M.  White  Ridley,"  writes  an  eye- 
witness, Mr.  Basil  Williams,  then  a  House  of  Commons' 
clerk,  "  the  two  candidates  addressed  the  House.  Mr. 
GuUy  made  a  fairly  good  speech,  but  Sir  Matthew's  was 
better  in  dignity  and  style.  At  this  stage  the  House  as  a 
whole  was  evidently  more  in  favour  of  Ridley ;  he  was 
much  respected  on  all  sides  of  the  House,  and  on  this 
occasion  he  and  his  proposer  had  made  the  better  im- 
pression. The  Liberals,  too,  knew  so  httle  of  Gully  that 
they  could  hardly  be  expected  to  feel  nmch  enthusiasm 
for  him.  At  this  point,  however,  the  Liberals'  backs  were 
stiffened  by  an  unfortunate  speech  of  Mr.  Balfour's,  who 
attacked  the  Government  for  proposing  so  inexperienced  a 
candidate,  and  threatened  to  turn  him  out  in  the  next 
ParUament.  Thereupon  up  leapt  Sir  William  Harcourt  in 
a  towering  passion   to   defend   the   Government's  choice. 

326  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Why,  in  effect,  he  said  to  the  Tories,  have  we  had  to  make 
this  choice  ?  '  I  will  tell  the  House  why.  Mr.  Gully  was 
a  second  choice  forced  on  us,  because  you  rejected  the  man 
we  had  chosen  ' — turning  round  and  looking  to  Courtney, 
where  he  sat  on  the  third  bench  below  the  gangway — '  the 
man  who  of  all  others  is  evidently  fitted  by  his  experience 
and  his  qualities  for  this  post.*  ^  This  great  tribute  to 
Courtney,  while  it  incidentally  won  the  Government  their 
case,  made  the  debate  end  more  as  a  triumph  for  the  man 
who  had  refused  to  be  put  forward,  since  he  was  denied  the 
imanimous  assent  of  his  own  party,  than  a  decision  on  the 
merits  of  the  two  actual  candidates  for  the  Chair.  Courtney 
himself  looked  on  grimly  humorous,  as  was  his  wont,  and 
left  the  House  without  voting." 

When  the  battle  was  over  the  Ministerial  Press  gave  free 
rein  to  its  chagrin.  The  Daily  News  iattributed  the  result 
to  Courtney's  refusal  to  be  a  hewer  of  wood  and  drawer  of 
water  for  the  Tory  party  In  an  article  entitled  "  Exit 
Aristides,"  the  Westminster  Gazette  explained  the  situation 
in  fuller  detail.  "  He  was  ruled  out  because  the  Tories 
opposed  him  and  because  the  Liberal  Unionists  did  not 
strongly  support  him.  One  heard  frequent  allusions  to  the 
Evicted  Tenants  Bill.  Lord  Sahsbury  gave  us  a  foretaste 
some  months  ago  when  he  ridiculed  and  abused  him  at  the 
Queen's  HaU  and  fell  foul  of  his  proposals  for  the  unification 
of  London.  The  fact  is  that  he  is  the  last  of  the  Liberal 
Unionists — that  is,  the  last  of  the  Liberals,  who,  in  defending 
the  Union,  have  not  found  it  necessary  to  throw  over  their 
Liberahsm."  The  resentment  felt  by  some  of  his  Liberal 
friends,  however,  was  before  very  long  to  be  mitigated  by 
the  unexpected  development  of  events.  "  Either  Courtney 
or  Campbell-Bannerman  in  my  opinion  would  have  done 
well,"  wrote  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson  a  few  years  later ;  "  yet 
it  was  probably  better  that  for  one  cause  or  another  both 
teU  through.     Some  years  later  Courtney  became  one  of  the 

^  Note  by  Mr.  Basil  Williams. — I  find  on  referring  to  Hansard  that 
Harcourt's  words  are  not  reported,  on  the  ground  that  they  were  drowned 
in  cheers.  I  was  perhaps  more  fortunate  than  the  reporters,  as  Harcourt 
was  facing  towards  the  part  of  the  House  where  I  was  sitting  and  had 
his  back  to  the  reporters'  gallery. 


best  and  bravest  of  the  Pro-Boers,  whose  courage  in  the 
cause  of  peace  and  justice  ennobled  our  pubHc  life.  Had 
either  of  them  become  Speaker  we  should  probably  have 
lost  them  from  our  fighting  forces."  ^ 

Though  the  final  result  was  a  momentary  disappointment. 
Aristides  himself  shed  no  tears  over  his  fate.  He  was  of 
course  well  aware  that  he  was  better  fitted  for  the  post  by 
knowledge  and  experience  than  any  of  his  competitors,  and 
the  attainment  of  one  of  the  highest  offices  in  the  State 
would  have  been  a  new  feather  in  the  cap  of  the  Penzance 
lad  who  owed  nothing  to  birth  or  fortune.  Yet  he  cared 
so  little  for  the  distinction  that  he  tvi-ice  dechned  the  nomina- 
tion which  carried  with  it  the  certainty  of  election.  The 
Leader  of  the  House  jocularly  complained  to  Mr.  Asquith 
that  he  was  trying  to  get  the  cock  to  fight ;  but  Courtney 
had  too  much  respect  for  his  own  dignity  to  allow  himself 
to  be  imposed  on  a  dissentient  minority.  Though  he 
shrewdly  suspected  that  his  cross-bench  mind  would  con- 
tinue to  bar  the  way  to  Cabinet  rank,  he  once  more  displayed 
an  almost  quixotic  indifference  to  personal  considerations, 
and  he  never  regretted  his  choice 

To  a  Correspondent 

April  15. — As  for  the  Speakership  I  rejoice  in  my  freedom. 
I  looked  with  something  like  dread  at  the  possibility  of  being 
absorbed — swallowed  up — extinguished  in  the  duties  of  that 
office  ;  and  as  I  cannot  doubt  they  will  be  well  discharged  by 
Mr.  Gully  I  do  not  think  I  can  reproach  myself  from  shrinking 
from  the  submersion. 

A  few  days  later  he  surveyed  the  events  of  an  exciting 
month  in  an  address  to  his  constituents  in  Liskeard.  "  I 
am  better,  you  are  better,  we  are  all  better,  that  the  Speaker- 
ship has  not  come  to  me.  From  the  beginning  I  dreaded 
rather  than  desired  the  great  post.  It  was  not  because  I 
was  afraid  I  should  be  defeated  that  I  did  not  stand.  I 
believe  if  I  had  been  nominated  I  should  have  got  a  con- 
siderable majority.     The  Speaker  is  a  great  man,  but  in 

^  G.  W.  E.  Russell,  Life  of  Sir  W.  Lawson,  p.  226. 

328  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap,  xv 

regard  to  politics  he  is  like  the  Great  Llama.  He  stands 
aside.  He  must  never  discuss  them.  I  have  maintained 
my  freedom,  and  at  a  great  price.  The  thing  I  treasure 
above  everything  else  is  to  maintain  an  independent  seat  in 
the  House  of  Commons,  strengthened  by  your  affection." 
The  lack  of  unanimity  in  the  House  and  the  preservation 
of  his  independence  had  been  sufficient  reasons  for  declining 
the  guttering  prize.  The  wisdom  of  his  decision  was 
questioned  at  the  time  by  many  of  his  friends,  and  again  a 
few  months  later,  when  Gully  was  quietly  reinstated  in  the 
Chair  by  the  victorious  Unionists  ;  but  it  was  to  be  ratified 
in  the  following  year  by  an  event  which  it  was  equally 
impossible  to  forecast  and  to  evade. 



A  FEW  weeks  after  Gully  was  installed  in  the  Speaker's 
Chair  the  Government  was  defeated  on  the  vote  for  cordite. 
No  one  had  expected  it  to  Hve  long,  for  the  majority  had 
steadily  dwindled.  Shortly  before  the  fatal  moment  Har- 
court  had  left  the  Chamber  with  the  remark,  "  This  is  very 
flat  "  ;  and,  seeing  Labouchere,  he  called  out  jocularly, 
"  Can't  you  get  up  a  crisis  for  us  ?  "  So  little  importance 
was  attached  to  the  division  that  Courtney  returned  to  the 
Hbrary  after  he  had  voted,  not  waiting  for  the  announce- 
ment of  the  figures.^  Lord  Rosebery  at  once  resigned  a 
position  which  he  bitterly  described  as  responsibility  without 
power,  and  Lord  Salisbury  formed  a  Coahtion  Government. 
It  was  generally  expected  that  Courtney  would  be  invited 
to  join.  The  Times  placed  him  as  a  matter  of  course  in  the 
Cabinet ;  and  a  cartoon  of  F.  C.  G.  represented  a  scene  of 
musical  chairs  with  the  Prime  Minister  at  the  piano  and  the 
Member  for  East  Cornwall  amongst  the  few  who  had  already 
found  a  seat.  Lord  Spencer  and  John  Morley  expressed 
their  conviction  that  he  would  be  offered  an  important  post, 
and  the  latter  seriously  remonstrated  against  his  anticipated 
reluctance  to  accept  it.  A  rumour  that  he  would  receive  the 
Post  Office  without  Cabinet  rank  annoyed  his  family,  but 
pleased  him  on  the  ground  that  no  one  would  expect  him  to 

^  For  the  first  and  last  time  he  voted  without  knowing  what  the 
division  was  about.  He  had  been  reading  in  the  hbrary,  and,  when  the 
bell  rang,  asked  Sir  Henry  James  and  other  friends,  who  mischievously 
told  him  that  it  was  nothing  in  particular  and  that  he  would  agree  with 
his  party. 


330  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

take  it.  He  desired  office  even  less  than  he  had  desired  the 
Speakership  ;  for  he  remained  a  Liberal  and  could  hardly 
expect  to  find  himself  at  home  in  a  Cabinet  controlled  by 
Lord  Salisbury  and  Joseph  Chamberlain.  All  speculations, 
however,  were  soon  set  at  rest  by  a  letter  from  the  Prime 

From  Lord  Salisbury 

June  30, 1895. — ^A  Coalition  Government  is  necessarily  formed 
with  some  regard  to  the  numerical  proportions  of  the  two  sections 
on  whose  support  it  relies.  Arithmetical  considerations  neces- 
sarily receive  a  weight,  at  least  at  first,  which  it  is  not  pleasant 
to  assign  to  them.  But  the  four  members  of  the  Liberal  Unionist 
party  now  in  the  Cabinet  exceed  the  proportion  which  the  Liberal 
Unionists  bear  to  the  party  as  a  whole  ;  and  I  could  not  at  this 
moment  go  further  still  without  running  the  risk  of  heart-burnings 
of  perilous  intensity.  I  have  inflicted  this  exordium  upon  you  in 
order  to  explain  why  I  have  been  unable  to  offer  you  a  place  in 
the  Cabinet,  and  of  course  it  would  have  been  idle  to  ofier  you 
any  other.  Do  not  understand  me  to  be  so  arrogant  as  to  assume 
that  you  would  have  accepted  such  an  offer  if  it  had  been  made. 
That  would  have  been,  and  probably  may  be  in  the  future,  a 
question  you  will  have  to  determine  for  yourself.  But  my  own 
part  in  the  matter  requires  thus  much  of  defence.  It  seems  very 
probable  that  after  the  General  Election  some  revision  of  the 
arrangements  now  proposed  may  become  necessary.  I  hope  that 
intermediately  you  may  not  see  cause  to  disapprove  of  the 
Government's  action. 

To  Lord  Salisbury 

LiSKEARD,  July  3,  1895. — Your  letter  of  the  30th  reached  me 
here  this  morning,  and  I  write  to  thank  you  heartily  for  this  very 
frank  and  friendly  communication.  Explanation  was  indeed 
scarcely  necessary  as  I  had  pretty  weU  understood  how  the  case 
lay  without  it ;  but  it  is  none  the  less  agreeable  because  it  confirms 
what  I  had  thought.  As  to  the  future  that  must  be  allowed  in 
great  measure  to  take  care  of  itself  ;  but  I  think  I  may  say  with 
certainty  that  my  own  action  wiU  not  in  any  degree  be  warped 
by  any  ranlding  feelings,  which  indeed  would  be  wholly  un- 
justifiable. I  think  you  will  understand  me  when  I  confess  I 
draw  some  satisfaction  from  the  fact  that  I  have  not  had  to 
consider  any  embarrassing  proposal.  I  am  naturally  very  busy 
here,  though  my  friends  are  (I  think  with  reason)  very  sanguine, 
and  you  must  be  busier  still. 


Once  again  Courtney  fought  the  election  on  Home  Rule. 
"  The  Bill,"  he  declared  in  his  address,  "  was  laid  aside, 
apparently  to  the  complete  contentment  of  the  nation. 
Ireland  itself  has  remained  profoundly  calm.  I  trust  the 
coming  elections  will  finally  dissipate  the  demand  for  a 
separate  Irish  Legislature.  It  wiU  be  the  duty  of  the 
Unionist  Government  to  estabUsh  County  Councils  and  to 
carry  a  hberally  conceived  Land  Bill."  Whatever  might 
have  been  the  merits  of  the  Liberal  Government  it  had  been 
condemned  by  its  congenital  weakness  to  plough  the  sands, 
and  it  had  succeeded  in  making  formidable  enemies.  Lord 
SaUsbury  was  confirmed  in  office  by  acclamation,  and  Court- 
ney was  re-elected  by  a  majority  of  543.  To  the  faithful 
Roby,  who  had  lost  his  seat,  Courtney's  position  seemed 
"  very  inconvenient, — Liberal  poUtics  and  Tory  supporters, 
with  Tory  and  pseudo-Liberal  chiefs  turning  you  the  cold 
shoulder."  Inconvenient  though  it  was,  compensations 
were  not  lacking,  for  he  returned  home  with  his  declaration 
of  independence  countersigned  by  his  constituents.  The 
Conservatives  had  loyally  rallied  to  his  support,  and  in  his 
speech  after  the  poU  he  celebrated  the  triumph  of  non-party 
views  over  "  the  falsehood  of  extremes." 

In  the  autumn  Courtney  and  his  wife  started  for  a  holiday 
in  Egypt  under  the  auspices  of  Sir  John  Scott,  now  Judicial 
Adviser  to  the  Khedive,  who  had  long  urged  his  old  friend  to 
pay  him  a  visit.  He  had  spent  a  fortnight  in  Alexandria 
and  Cairo  on  his  way  to  India  in  1875  ;  but  he  now  fulfilled 
his  ambition  to  sail  up  the  Nile  and  study  the  results  of  the 
British  occupation  in  detail.  The  visitor  paid  his  respects 
to  Lord  Cromer,  who  presented  him  to  the  young  Khedive, 
renewed  his  acquaintance  with  Nubar,  whom  he  had  met  in 
Paris,  and  heard  from  Slatin  Pasha  the  story  of  his  captivity 
in  the  Mahdi's  camp  and  his  romantic  escape.  After  tasting 
the  delights  of  Cairo  he  accompanied  Sir  John  on  his  annual 
tour  up  the  Nile  to  inspect  the  Courts  of  Justice  and  to  give 
advice  to  the  village  magistrates.  The  journey  embraced  the 
rarely  visited  Fayum,  and  conversations  with  the  village  and 
district  officials  gave  him  an  insight  into  the  working  of  native 
institutions.     Though  he  was  now  sixty-three  years  old,  his 

332  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

energy  astonished  his  companions,  and  he  was  usually  the 
latest  to  bed  and  the  earUest  to  rise  of  the  party.  He  met 
Flinders  Petrie  in  the  Tombs  of  the  Kings,  and  on  his  return 
to  the  capital  made  the  acquaintance  of  Tigrane  Pasha  and 
visited  the  Government's  new  Giris'  School  under  the 
guidance  of  Artin  Pasha,  the  Minister  of  Education.  The 
closing  days  of  the  hohday  were  darkened  by  the  ominous 
news  of  Cleveland's  message  and  the  Jameson  Raid.  The 
travellers  reached  home  at  the  end  of  January  1896,  after 
an  absence  of  ten  weeks. 

The  atmosphere  of  the  new  Parliament  was  tranquil 
enough,  for  the  Opposition  were  depressed  by  their  defeat 
and  the  Nationalists  were  disunited.  But  though  the 
strength  of  the  Government  in  the  House  and  the  country 
was  beyond  challenge,  their  prestige  suffered  a  damaging 
blow  in  the  first  session.  An  ambitious  Education  Bill  was 
introduced,  instructing  County  Councils  to  appoint  a  Com- 
mittee to  supervise  and  supplement  the  School  Board  ;  but 
the  proposed  aid  to  Voluntary  Schools  aroused'  a  hornet's 
nest.  Courtney  as  usual  sympathised  with  parts  of  the 
rival  cases.  "  I  am  for  undenominational  education,"  he 
wrote  in  a  letter  to  the  Times  on  May  29,  "  but  I  am 
ready  for  a  grant  to  voluntary  schools."  This  could  be 
done  without  time  or  trouble  by  a  Treasury  grant,  and 
assistance  from  local  resources  could  be  provided  by  a 
separate  Bill  in  the  following  year.  If  rate-aid  were  to  be 
given,  representatives  of  the  community  must  be  added  to 
the  management.  At  a  party  meeting  at  the  Carlton  Club 
Mr.  Balfour  proposed  that  Parhament  should  be  adjourned  in 
August  and  meet  again  early  in  January  to  conclude  the 
Bill.  "  Only  Leonard  Courtney,"  writes  an  eye-witness, 
"  hfted  up  his  voice  against  what  appeared  to  all  of  us  an 
obviously  absurd  proposition  directly  we  left  the  room."  ^ 
Exactly  a  week  later  Mr.  Balfour  announced  the  abandon- 
ment of  the  Bill.  The  collapse  was  claimed  as  a  triumph  by 
the  Opposition  ;  but  the  Daily  Mail  declared  that  the  Bill 
had  been  killed  by  the  Unionist  Member  for  East  Cornwall. 

During   the    Easter   hohdays    Courtney    despatched    a 

^  A.  Griffith-Boscawen,  Fourteen  Years  in  Parliament,  pp.  104-5. 


political  bulletin  to  his  late  host  in  Cairo,  survejdng  the 
opening  work  of  the  session  and  his  own  position  in  the 

To  Sir  John  Scott 

April  15,  1896. — The  Government  have  got  their  hands  full  in 
ParHament  just  now  quite  apart  from  foreign  and  colonial  affairs. 
Their  Education  Bill  is  rather  gratuitously  big  and  provocative. 
I  do  not  suppose  they  will  be  defeated  on  any  serious  detail  or 
even  humiUated  ;  but  if  the  Bill  is  to  be  pushed  in  its  entirety, 
it  will  occupy  a  great  space  of  the  session  and  yield  numberless 
divisions.  Many  of  its  provisions  are  distinctly  bad  and  unfair. 
Then  Gerald  Balfour  brought  in  on  Monday  an  Irish  Land  Bill 
which  took  him  three  hours  to  introduce,  and  the  provisions  of 
which  are  so  complex  and  novel  that  even  if  it  was  submitted  to 
a  friendly  Committee  sitting  round  a  table  it  might  occupy  some 
weeks.  The  character  of  this  BiU  is  good,  but  where  is  the  time 
for  getting  it  through  ParHament  ?  Add  to  these  two  Bills  (and 
there  are  others)  the  Budget  which  comes  on  to-morrow  night. 
It  will  probably  contain  a  big  bonus  for  landowners  by  way  of 
alleviating  rates,  and  if  so  will  be  hard  fought.  Altogether  the 
work  cut  out  for  us  between  this  and  August  is  more  than  can  be 
squeezed  into  the  time ;  and,  though  all  Governments  prepare 
more  than  they  complete,  this  Government  is  unusually  ambitious. 
They  are  perhaps  relying  on  the  broken  and  distracted  state  of 
the  Opposition,  which  has  hitherto  been  very  noticeable.  But 
the  Education  Bill  will  bind  them  together,  although  the  Irish 
members  may  often  support  the  Government.  My  own  position 
in  the  House  is  not  unhappy.  I  am  indeed  very  much  alone. 
I  have  no  party  nor  do  I  try  to  make  one  ;  but  this  perhaps  adds 
to  the  attention  paid  to  my  utterances,  which  seem  received  with 
respect.  Extreme  partisans  of  the  Government  doubtless  resent 
my  criticisms,  but  with  the  members  of  the  Government  I  remain 
on  very  friendly  relations.  Even  Chamberlain,  who  is  most  apt 
to  feel  anger  at  any  one  crossing  his  path,  has  not  manifested  it 
this  time  ;  and  on  Saturday  I  returned  from  my  Cornish  visit 
and  speeches  to  dine  with  him.  As  it  chanced  I  had  to  take 
Mrs.  Chamberlain  into  dinner  and  she  shewed  no  signs  of  being 
ruffled.  She  is  indeed  always  a  charming,  amiable  woman,  and 
she  was  as  simple,  open,  and  friendly  as  ever ;  and  I  should  think 
could  not  have  heard  much  the  other  way. 

The  session  of  1896,  and  indeed  the  whole  career  of  the 
Parliament  elected  in  1895,  was  overshadowed  by  foreign 

334  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

affairs.  In  the  debate  on  the  Address,  Courtney  deKvered 
the  first  of  his  many  philippics  against  the  Raid.  "  I  heard 
of  it  with  disgust,  and  when  I  learned  of  Dr.  Jameson's 
defeat  and  surrender  I  gave  imqualified  thanks.  If  the 
Boers  chose  to  raise  their  voices  in  singing  the  sixty-eighth 
Psalm,  I  should  have  joined  with  them  heartily,"  The 
conduct  of  the  Colonial  Secretary  received  a  warm  testi- 
monial. "  He  has  saved  us  from  a  great  peril,  saved  our 
character  and  our  honour.  He  saw  at  once  what  was  to  be 
done  and  did  not  hesitate.  His  action  enables  me  to  resent 
the  Kaiser's  telegram."  On  his  first  visit  to  his  con- 
stituents he  denounced  "  this  colossal  blunder,  this  fatal 
inroad,"  and  declared  that  the  urgent  duty  of  the  Govern- 
ment was  the  restoration  of  confidence.  He  had  been 
scarcely  less  amazed  by  Cleveland's  message  than  by  the  raid ; 
but  Lord  Salisbury  had  acted  wisely  in  referring  the  Venezuela 
boundary  to  arbitration,  and  good  had  come  out  of  evil. 

When  the  first  excitement  over  the  Transvaal  and  Vene- 
zuela had  cooled,  the  vaUey  of  the  Nile  began  to  claim  atten- 
tion. The  pubhcly  expressed  desire  of  Gladstone  and 
Granville  to  withdraw  from  Egypt  as  soon  as  possible  had 
been  shared  by  Lord  SaUsbury  ;  but  the  Drummond  Wolff 
Convention  of  1887,  providing  for  evacuation,  was  wrecked 
by  France's  objection  to  the  clause  conceding  our  claim  to 
re-enter  in  case  of  need.  Gladstone  reiterated  the  demand 
for  evacuation  in  1891  ;  but  when,  after  the  change  of 
Government  in  1892,  France  asked  for  a  limit  to  be  set  to 
the  occupation  Lord  Rosebery,  the  Foreign  Secretary, 
refused  to  discuss  the  question.  In  1895  Sir  Edward  Grey 
announced  the  decision  of  the  Cabinet  to  regard  any  foreign 
settlement  on  the  upper  reaches  of  the  Nile  as  "  an  unfriendly 
act  "  ;  and  in  1896  the  Coahtion  determined  to  advance  the 
Egyptian  frontier  to  Dongola. 

When  Gladstone  had  raised  the  question  of  evacuation 
in  1891  Courtney  had  backed  up  his  demand.  "  I  realise 
the  possible  danger  to  Egypt  from  quitting  it  prematurely," 
he  told  his  constituents.  "  We  are  doing  a  great  work  there, 
and  I  should  deeply  regret  if  it  was  interrupted  and  destroyed. 
But  if  the  price  of  the  existing  system  is  the  poisoning  of 


the  poKtical  atmosphere  of  Europe,  we  are  bound  to  prefer 
the  lesser  to  the  greater  evil,  and  let  Egypt  trust  to  herself. 
That,  however,  is  not  necessary.  We  could  arrange  with 
France  for  a  body  of  international  police.  The  peace  of 
Europe  is  jeopardised  by  the  soreness  of  France.  Let  us 
remove  that  soreness  by  evacuating  Egypt,  as  Lord  Salisbury 
attempted  to  do  in  1887."  The  friction  continued,  and 
Egypt  was  only  one  of  the  irritants.  Lord  Rosebery's 
sentiments  towards  France,  though  by  no  means  unfriendly, 
were  not  exactly  cordial ;  and  the  change  of  Premiership  in 
1894  increased  Courtney's  ever-present  fear  of  colonial 
complications.  Desiring  to  reassure  French  opinion  he 
appealed  to  Gladstone  to  issue  a  message  of  good-will. 

From  W.  E.  Gladstone 

October  29, 1894. — I  am  absolutely  in  sympathy  with  the  spirit 
of  your  letter ;  yet  I  feel  much  difficulty  about  the  suggestion 
which  it  appears  to  favour.  All  the  first  years  of  my  life  were 
years  in  which  a  cordial  understanding  with  France  was  the 
avowed  aim  of  all  our  best  and  wisest  statesmen,  and  the  senti- 
ment has  not  died  out  of  my  heart.  I  make  no  secret  of  it,  and 
never  should  hesitate  about  expressing  it,  unless  in  the  case, 
unhappily  not  an  infrequent  one,  when  any  declaration,  which 
can  be  made  to  appear  gratuitous,  is  construed  to  be  due  to  some 
secret  and  unavowed  motive,  and  the  most  sinister  considerations 
are  attached  to  it.  Naturally,  after  sixty-two  years  of  public  life, 
I  have  many  opinions  of  my  own  on  public  affairs,  but  I  find  it 
necessary  to  be  very  reserved  as  to  the  expression  of  them.  I 
fear  that  in  such  a  case  as  this  a  volunteered  expression  on  my 
part  would  be  interpreted  not  as  a  contribution  to  national  friend- 
ship and  the  peace  of  Europe  but  as  an  overture  or  bid  towards 
resuming  a  political  position.  At  a  dinner  which  was  given  me 
in  Paris  some  years  ago  I  endeavoured  to  do  justice  to  the  Re- 
public as  not  less  qualified  than  any  preceding  Government  for 
the  discharge  of  international  obligations.  Of  course  I  am  not 
minutely  conversant  with  the  present  state  of  things,  but  I  have 
much  confidence  in  Lord  Kimberley's  disposition  and  his  dis- 
cretion. From  recollections  extending  over  a  great  many  years 
between  1863  and  1894  I  have  derived,  of  course,  some  diversity 
of  impressions  at  one  time  and  another,  but  no  general  mistrust 
or  approximation  to  it,  and  on  the  contrary  pleasing  recollections 
of  repeated  indications  of  friendliness  and  fairness. 

336  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Holding  such  opinions  Courtney  naturally  opposed  the 
advance  to  Dongola,  and  he  spoke  and  voted  against  the 
Government  when  Labouchere  raised  the  question  on 
March  i6.  If  it  meant  an  attempt  to  conquer  the  Sudan, 
he  argued,  it  must  be  condemned  immediately.  Egypt 
possessed  a  very  strong  frontier  at  Wady  Haifa.  The 
KhaUfa  was  weaker  than  the  Mahdi ;  and  nobody  in  Egypt 
was  afraid  of  invasion.  If  it  was  to  relieve  the  strain  on 
Kassala  and  assist  Italy,  hundreds  of  miles  away  across  the 
desert,  that  help  could  best  be  rendered  through  the  Red 
Sea.  "  There  is  danger  in  Europe.  Why  lock  up  your 
forces  in  an  absurd  and  fruitless  attempt  to  recover  that 
which  is  valueless  ?  We  are  weakened  by  our  position  in 
Egypt ;  and  to  lock  up  our  troops  in  the  Sudan  would  in- 
crease our  weakness."  A  fortnight  later  he  returned  to  the 
question  in  an  address  to  his  constituents.  The  policy  had 
been  announced,  but  there  was  still  time  to  prevent  it  going 
further.  "  When  the  country  is  once  engaged,  the  voice  of 
reason  is  hushed.  If  disaster  occurs,  it  must  be  avenged ; 
if  success,  it  blots  out  all  recollection  of  right  and  wrong. 
I  do  not  desire  to  quit  Egypt  by  the  next  mail,  but  to  keep 
evacuation  in  view.  I  wish  us  to  keep  our  word.  Before  we 
go  we  must  have  a  European  agreement  on  the  terms  of 
withdrawal  and  the  organisation  to  be  substituted.  England 
might  reserve  the  right  of  re-entry,  as  Lord  Salisbury 
reserved  it  in  1887.  I  fear  we  have  failed  to  bear  in  mind 
the  necessity  of  training  Egyptians  to  govern  the  country  ; 
for  they  are  all,  as  it  were,  second-class  clerks.  As  for  the 
Sudan,  it  is  a  vast  desert.  Gordon  declared  it  a  useless 
possession  ;  and  it  would  be  nothing  but  a  burden  for 
Egypt.  If  we  stay  in  Egypt,  we  should  get  rid  of  the 
suzerainty  of  Turkey,  educate  the  people,  and  keep  the 
country  isolated  by  the  desert." 

Courtney's  voice  carried  further  than  that  of  most 
Ministers  and  ex-Ministers ;  and  when  Lord  Rosebery 
criticised  his  opinions  at  the  Colchester  Oyster  Feast  in  the 
autumn,  he  addressed  a  powerful  letter  to  the  Times.  "  Lord 
Rosebery  is  afflicted  by  the  Armenian  horrors.  We  have  a 
right  to  interfere  ;   but  we  are  distrusted  if  not  detested  by 


every  European  Power,  and  we  are  weak  with  our  swollen 
Empire.  The  weary  Titan  has  become  a  Falstaff,  gorged 
beyond  digestion,  incapable  of  action.  Why  are  we  so  dis- 
trusted and  detested  ?  What  have  we  been  doing  the  last 
twenty  years  ?  Snatching  at  continents,  pegging  out 
claims,  interfering  as  missionaries  of  order  and  peace  and 
then  settling  down  in  permanent  possession  ;  in  short,  making 
up  those  two  and  a  half  million  square  miles  of  undigested 
Empire  which  satisfy  so  powerfully  the  Imperiahstic  instinct 
and  reduce  us  to  abject  impotence.  Mr.  Gladstone  may 
talk  of  self-denying  ordinances  ;  but  could  those  be  trusted 
at  Constantinople  who  have  not  been  able  to  prove  them- 
selves trustworthy  at  Cairo  ?  Is  there  no  way  of  setting 
ourselves  right  with  the  rest  of  civilised  Europe,  of  proving 
our  sincerity  by  act  as  well  as  word  ?  We  might  surrender 
Cyprus — not  restoring  it  to  Turkey  but  making  it  a  ward  of 
Europe  under  a  prince.  But  the  real  key  to  the  situation 
is  Egypt.  We  must  exchange  our  exclusive  control  for  an 
international  settlement.  This  transfer  has  been  rendered 
infinitely  more  difficult  by  recent  operations  in  the  Sudan  ; 
but  unless  and  until  it  is  done  we  cannot  claim  the  trust  of 
other  Powers,  we  cannot  resent  their  sneers  at  our  sincerity, 
we  cannot  hope  for  co-operation  in  any  part  of  the  East.  If 
Lord  Salisbury  would  intimate  his  readiness  for  a  conference 
on  the  international  settlement  of  Egypt,  the  difficulties  in 
the  way  of  enforcing  order  at  Constantinople  and  stopping 
murder  and  outrage  elsewhere  would  disappear.  Never 
before  has  an  ex-Prime  Minister  proclaimed  our  incapacity 
in  the  face  of  Europe.  No  Little  Englander  has  ever 
humiliated  his  country  like  that.  Such  is  the  triumph  of 
the  Imperial  spirit!  Such  is  statesmanship !  "  When 
critics  of  the  letter  rejoined  in  the  Times  that  the  Powers  did 
not  want  us  to  leave  Egypt,  he  retorted  that  in  that  case 
Europe  could  make  us  its  mandatory. 

The  summer  of  1896  forms  a  dark  landmark  in  Courtney's 


May  20. — Queen's  Birthday.     Leonard  dined  with  Arthur 
Balfour  and  joined  me  afterwards  at  the  Foreign  Office.    He 


338  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

complained  he  could  not  see  who  people  were  ;  had  found  reading 
a  difficulty  the  day  before.  Thursday  came  home  from  the  House 
and  said  it  was  no  use  his  going  back  as  he  could  do  and  say 
nothing,  not  being  able  to  read  the  amendments. 

May  21. — Leonard  goes  to  Nettleship  to  get  new  glasses  and 
came  away  much  depressed.  There  is  serious  trouble  in  his  right 
eye,  the  only  one  with  which  he  could  see  near  objects  well. 
Nettleship  would  give  no  opinion  at  present  as  to  recovery,  but 
advised  him  to  go  away  to  the  country,  take  some  anti-gout 
medicine,  and  see  what  complete  rest  would  do. 

May  28. — L.  again  to  Nettleship ;  he  would  not  let  me  go 
with  him.  Came  back  very  gloomy.  It  was  difficult  to  extract 
from  him  exactly  what  Nettleship  had  said  ;  but  the  impression 
was  that  substantial  recovery  of  sight  was  unlikely.  We  were 
both  very  sad ;  but  these  three  days  at  home  wholly  alone, 
struggling  with  our  fate,  will  always  be  a  sacred  and  partly  a 
sweet  memory  to  me  on  account  of  his  deep  feeling  and  confidence 
in  me. 

References  to  eye  trouble  are  found  as  early  as  the  'fifties. 
In  her  recoUections  of  the  young  Don  at  Cambridge  Mrs. 
Bushell  recalls  "  a  look  of  weakness  in  the  eyes."  "  Let  me 
inquire  particularly  about  your  eyes,"  wrote  Dr.  Willan  in 
1859.  "  I  shaU  not  post  this  till  I  have  ascertained  at  your 
house  that  you  are  allowed  to  read  and  write  again.  Pray 
avoid  all  candle-light  reading."  The  trouble,  however, 
passed  away,  and  he  read  and  wrote  as  much  as  any  man  of 
his  time.  His  health  was  magnificent ;  and  when  the  blow 
fell  in  1896  it  came  as  a  thimderclap.  Friends  and  relations 
hastened  forward  with  comfort  and  counsel.  Roby  offered 
to  accompany  him  to  Wiesbaden.  Mr.  Stebbing  declared 
that  even  if  the  worst  happened  his  public  career  might  gain 
more  than  it  lost,  since  he  would  win  In  sympathy  what  he 
lost  in  the  power  of  acquiring  information.  Mrs.  Sidney 
Webb  implored  him  to  make  any  sacrifices  necessary  to 
recovery,  since  his  great  capacity  for  the  "  Higher  Criticism  " 
of  politics  could  iU  be  spared.  "  I  am  so  very,  very  sorry," 
wrote  Sir  John  Scott  to  Mrs.  Courtney.  "  I  wonder  if  all 
the  glare  of  Upper  Egj^^t  did  harm.  I  used  to  be  anxious 
sometimes,  but  he  always  seemed  a  colossus  of  strength.  I 
trust  that  with  immediate  and  complete  rest  it  will  all  come 


right  again.  But  even  a  temporary  privation  of  the  use  of 
his  eyes  must  be  a  terrible  blow.  He  does  such  excellent 
service  in  his  independent  position.  Honour  in  foreign 
pontics  and  good  sense  and  moderation  in  home  affairs  have 
been  his  two  aims." 

Postponing  his  departure  for  Wiesbaden  till  the  summer 
holidays,  Courtney  determined  to  continue  his  work  as  usual, 
and  spoke  once  or  twice  in  the  House.  His  most  important 
engagement  was  to  preside  at  the  Cobden  Club  dinner  at 
Greenwich  on  the  jubilee  of  the  repeal  of  the  Com  Laws. 
He  dictated  full  notes  to  his  wife,  who  was  prevented  from 
accompanying  him  ;  but  his  sister,  Mrs.  Oliver,  sat  by  his 
side,  ready  to  aid.  His  speech  delighted  the  large  number 
of  foreign  guests  and  was  described  by  Sir  Charles  Dilke  as 
magnificent.^  It  was  a  great  encouragement  to  find  that  he 
could  deliver  an  hour's  address  without  notes  and  without 

The  withdrawal  of  the  Education  Bill  brought  the  end  of 
the  session  within  sight,  and  early  in  July  he  left  home  to 
consult  Pagenstecher.  He  was  urged  to  enter  the  Khnik  and 
undergo  a  course  of  treatment.  The  next  two  months  were 
monotonous  but  not  unpleasant.  Friends  came  and  went, 
including  Sir  WiUiam  Harcourt  and  Sir  John  Scott,  Mrs., 
Fawcett  and  Moberly  Bell.  His  wife  read  him  the  Times 
in  the  morning  and  more  nourishing  fare  at  night.  The 
patient  dictated  his  address  as  President  of  the  Economic 
Section  of  the  British  Association,  in  which  he  reiterated 
his  emphatic  conviction  of  the  essential  soundness  of  the 
doctrines  and  spirit  of  the  classical  economists,  and  once 
again  proclaimed  that  society  could  only  be  reformed  by  a 
blend  of  individual  self-reliance  and  voluntary  association. 
Frequent  bulletins  were  despatched  to  anxious  friends  who 
wrote  to  encourage  and  condole. 

From  Mrs.  Fawcett  {to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

August  3,  1896. — I  am  feeling  so  much  for  you  both  in  your 
disappointment  about  the  effect  of  the  Wiesbaden  treatment. 
Actual  misfortune,  however  severe,  always  seems  to  me  less  hard 

1  Published  in  the  volume,  Cobden  and  the  Jubilee  of  Free  Trade.  1896. 

340  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

to  bear  than  continued  suspense  and  growing  discouragement, 
because  there  is  something  in  an  actual  misfortune  which  calls 
out  the  courage  necessary  to  bear  it.  Therefore  I  feel  that  even 
if  the  worst  which  you  fear  should  happen,  the  present  is  your 
saddest  time,  and  Mr.  Courtney's  too.  If  he  should  lose  his  sight 
altogether,  he  will  have  the  courage  to  make  the  most  and  the 
happiest  of  his  Hfe  and  years.  Harry  always  told  me  his  worst 
time  was  when  there  were  hopes  still  held  out  to  him  that  his 
sight  might  be  restored. 

From  Sir  John  Scott  [to  Mrs.  Courtney) 

Nauheim. — I  wanted  to  tell  you  how  glad  I  am  to  have  seen 
you  and  Leonard.  I' had  thought  of  so  much  worse  things  and 
I  am  really  relieved  to  a  certain  extent.  Yet  it  is  a  wonderful 
pity,  and  I  am  pagan  enough  to  wish  the  blow  had  fallen  on  less 
essentially  useful  persons.  His  force  hitherto  has  lain  in  his  great 
knowledge  and  principles  supported  by  a  marvellous  grasp  of 
detail.     The  latter  will  have  to  sUde  a  Uttle. 

From  A.  J.  Mundella 

August  27,  1896. — I  know  it  will  be  a  trouble  to  you  if  ulti- 
mately you  are  unable  "  to  tear  the  heart  out  of  a  book  "  ; 
but,  my  dear  friend,  you  know  so  much  already  that  under  any 
circumstances  you  will  always  know  more  than  anybody  else, 
Gladstone  perhaps  excepted.  If  you  are  content  to  give  more  of 
your  own  thoughts  to  others  (as  in  your  Education  letter)  at  the 
expense  of  reading  less  of  the  thoughts  of  other  men,  the  world 
will  be  the  gainer  and  your  own  honour  "  moult  no  feather." 
You  remember  the  night  on  the  Treasury  bench  when  I  and 
Henry  James  ran  away  from  Gladstone's  interrogations.  I 
referred  him  to  you,  teUing  him  "  Courtney  is  a  walking  encyclo- 
pedia ;  he  knows  everything,"  and  so  we  left  you  together.  The 
old  man  has  left  us  and  you  are  left  alone  the  sole  depository  of 
all  the  knowledge  that  is  worth  knowing,  and  you  have  still 
another  pair  of  eyes  and  hands  lovingly,  devotedly,  at  your 
service.  May  God  long  preserve  them  to  you,  and  may  you  long 
be  preserved  to  each  other !  I  have  an  abiding  conviction  that 
your  work  in  the  future  will  be  higher  and  better  than  all  you 
have  done  in  the  past,  and  I  am  sure  it  will  have  greater  weight 
and  influence  with  your  fellow-countrymen. 


Throughout  the  summer  hope  alternated  with  dis- 
appointment. Pagenstecher  declared  that  there  was  no 
danger  of  total  blindness  ;  but  he  could  hold  out  httle  hope 
of  improvement  or  of  ability  to  read.  After  two  months' 
treatment  a  fortnight's  rest  was  prescribed  and  was  spent 
at  Konigstein  in  the  Taunus.  On  his  return  the  oculist 
announced  that  he  could  do  no  more.  The  inflammation 
was  gone  and  the  sight  improved,  but  reading  was  still 
impossible.  One  of  the  last  letters  from  Wiesbaden  was 
written  to  the  friend  whose  understanding  sjnnpathy  had 
been  a  very  present  help  in  time  of  trouble. 

To  Mrs.  Fawcett 

October  8. — We  are  sending  you  back  by  post  The  Oxford 
Reformers.  My  wife  has  read  it  to  me  to  our  great  pleasure.  It 
presents  a  beautiful  view  of  some  detached  characters  moving 
about  among  the  general  vice  and  cruelty  of  Europe.  The 
affectionate  side  of  Erasmus  is  brought  out  much  more  than  in 
Froude's  edition  of  the  Letters.  I  think  we  may  have  to  go  on 
to  the  Cloister  and  the  Hearth  if  it  is  in  Tauchnitz.  My  condition 
has  been  a  little  improved  but  not  very  much.  I  am  perhaps 
more  independent  in  general  conduct,  but  for  reading  and  writing 
have  to  depend  completely  upon  Kate.  Good-bye,  dear  Mrs, 
Fawcett.  Our  united  love  to  you.  It  was  most  good  of  you  to 
come  here. 

The  travellers  reached  home  in  the  middle  of  October 
after  an  exile  of  three  months.  Courtney  was  now  aware 
that  he  would  never  read  again  ;  but  he  determined  that 
his  terrible  affliction  should  not  interfere  either  with  his 
public  activities  or  his  personal  happiness.  "  InabiHty  to 
read  and  write  would  have  made  a  recluse  and  a  misanthrope 
of  many  men  with  his  gifts  and  hkings,"  writes  Mr,  Steb- 
bing  ;  "  but  it  changed  and  seemed  to  affect  none  of  his. 
Secretaries,  whose  aid  to  him  was  most  zealously  rendered, 
were  hands  and  eyes.  He  needed  and  would  accept  no  aid 
to  guide  his  feet.  He  criticised  with  keen  zest  paintings 
and  etchings.  Remains  of  sight  told  him  more  than  most 
men's  sharpest  vision.  And  withal  the  joy  in  the  rays  he 
kept  !     Only  let  it  not  be  thought  that  the  privation  marks 

342  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

an  abyss  blocking  a  career,  or  even  a  start  afresh.  It  was 
the  same  Leonard  Courtney  before  and  after — if  not  a  little 
more  heroically  himself."  A  secretary  to  help  with  the 
morning's  work  was  found  in  Leo  Amery,  a  brilhant  young 
Oxford  scholar,  in  whom  the  old  statesman  discovered  the 
quick  intelligence  and  knowledge  of  current  pohtics  that 
he  needed.  With  his  aid  he  prepared  an  address  on  the 
American  Presidential  Election  which  was  afterwards  pub- 
lished in  the  Nineteenth  Century.^ 

Courtney's  treatment  of  Bryan's  whirlwind  campaign 
offers  a  good  illustration  of  his  intellectual  characteristics. 
The  unanimity  and  fervour  with  which  the  silver  champion 
was  denounced  produced  not  conviction  but  reaction,  and 
prompted  him  to  independent  study  of  the  issues  involved. 
"  When  we  remember  that  the  defeated  minority  were 
American  citizens  and  amounted  to  a  large  minority,  doubt 
arises  whether  they  could  have  been  so  reckless,  so  anarchical, 
and  so  unrighteous  as  has  been  suggested."  DeaUng  first 
with  the  popular  notion  that  the  fight  was  between  bimetal- 
list  heretics  and  champions  of  the  gold  standard,  he  points 
out  that  the  Republicans  desired  to  reach  bimetallism 
through  co-operation  with  other  nations,  while  the  Demo- 
crats declined  to  wait.  Both,  therefore,  were  for  the  dual 
standard  ;  and  if  the  Republicans  were  insincere,  at  any 
rate  they  thought  it  necessary  to  pose.  In  the  second  place 
the  Democrats  were  only  asking  for  a  return  to  the  practice 
before  1873,  when  silver  was  freely  coined  into  dollars  and 
was  recognised  as  legal  tender.  Silver  dollars  already  in 
circulation  had  remained  legal  tender,  and  the  proposal  to 
revert  to  free  coinage  was  no  greater  crime  than  to  demand 
the  reopening  of  the  Indian  mints.  The  argument  that 
debts  contracted  in  gold  since  1873  would  be  payable  in 
silver  was  deUberately  misleading,  since  the  Constitution 
nullified  in  advance  legislation  altering  pre-existing  con- 
tracts. A  nation  could  not  be  forbidden  to  reverse  a  false 
step.  Many  friends  of  gold  in  England  now  admitted  the 
mistake  of  demonetising  silver  in  Frarice,  Germany  and  the 
United  States  ;   and  Everett's  Resolution  of  February  1895 

^  January  1897. 


in  the  House  of  Commons,  expressing  increasing  apprehen- 
sion at  the  constant  fluctuations  and  growing  divergence  in 
the  relative  value  of  gold  and  silver,  and  urging  the  summon- 
ing of  an  international  conference,  had  been  accepted  by 
the  Government.  Free  silver,  moreover,  though  the  chief 
plank  in  the  Democratic  programme,  was  far  from  being 
the  only  one.  "  The  RepubUcan  platform  was  an  appeal 
to  some  of  the  worst  tendencies  of  American  democracy 
and  a  defence  of  one  of  the  most  unequal  and  unjust  systems 
of  taxation.  Protection  and  jingoism  were  rampant  all 
along  the  Une."  The  Democrats  stood  for  Free  Trade — 
tariff  for  revenue  only — and  for  income  tax,  and  against 
trusts  and  monopoUes.  The  Republican  victory  was  largely 
the  result  of  the  conservatism  of  ignorance,  and  gave  no 
cause  for  rejoicing. 

The  session  of  1897  began  early  in  January  in  order  to 
deal  with  the  relief  of  Voluntary  Schools  before  the  close  of 
the  financial  year.  The  Bill  granting  5s.  per  head  was  met 
by  an  amendment,  moved  by  Mr.  Lloyd  George,  for  the 
representation  of  local  authorities  or  parents  on  the  manage- 
ment of  schools  receiving  the  relief.  Courtney  supported 
both  the  grant  and  the  amendment.  Why  should  the 
Government,  he  asked,  shrink  from  this  principle  ?  Did 
Mr.  Balfour  himself  approve  of  it  or  did  he  not  ?  When 
the  Leader  of  the  House  refused  to  reply,  remarking  that 
its  acceptance  would  make  a  new  BiU  and  open  the  way  to 
a  flood  of  amendments,  he  rejoined  that  the  matter  could 
have  been  and  could  still  be  arranged  by  an  understanding. 
It  must  and  will  come,  he  added;  if  not  now,  then  in  a 
subsequent  measure.  The  prophecy  was  to  be  fulfilled 
some  years  later  ;  and  the  Government  preferred  to  meet 
their  critics  by  promising  another  Bill  to  assist  the  poorer 
Board  Schools. 

The  second  important  project  of  the  session  was  the 
Workmen's  Compensation  Bill,  introduced  by  the  Home 
Secretary,  Sir  Matthew  White  Ridley,  but  in  reaUty  the  work 
of  Chamberlain,  who  seized  the  rudder  on  all  critical  occa- 
sions. The  measure  was  disUked  by  large  employers  on 
both  sides  of  the  House  ;  and  it  was  obvious  that  agriculture 

344  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

and  other  excepted  trades  would  have  to  be  included  later. 
The  Colonial  Secretary  did  his  best  to  minimise  the  effect  of 
his  proposals  ;  and  despite  open  revolt  and  secret  discontent 
they  passed  through  the  Lower  House  with  little  alteration. 
Lord  Londonderry  and  Lord  Dudley,  the  spokesmen,  of  the 
coal-owners,  showed  their  teeth  in  the  Upper  House  ;  but 
the  Birmingham  influence  was  too  formidable  to  resist. 
Courtney  was  convinced  that  the  measure  would  have  had 
no  chance  if  introduced  by  a  Liberal  Government ;  but  it 
aroused  no  enthusiasm  in  his  breast.  "  Its  worst  fault," 
he  wrote,  "  is  that  it  is  an  illustration  of  the  general  senti- 
ment creating  pecuniary  responsibilities  when  no  moral 
obligation  is  recognised,  and  thus,  at  least  for  a  time, 
corrupting  moral  standards  and  developing  predatory 
instincts.  In  the  end  the  new  burden  will  come  to  be 
calculated  as  a  trade  charge,  and  the  judgement  on  the 
bill  must  depend  on  its  effect  on  the  moral  character  of 

At  the  beginning  of  the  session  a  debate  on  Woman's 
Suffrage  excited  more  interest  than  it  had  done  for  many 
years  ;  for  the  Second  Reading  of  a  Private  Member's  Bill 
was  carried  for  the  first  time.  A  bulletin  was.  promptly 
despatched  to  Mrs,  Fawcett,  who  was  far  away  in  Athens. 

Mrs.  Courtney  to  Mrs.  Fawcett 

February  12,  1897. — ^The  speaking  was  very  bad  except 
George  Wyndham.  Jebb  was  good,  but  somehow  the  House  was 
tired  and  talked,  and  I  was  getting  very  sad  that  Leonard  never 
came  in  from  his  Indian  Committee,  as  he  said  he  should  leave 
the  talk  to  the  younger  men.  Then  Harcourt  got  up  and  made 
one  of  his  most  pompous  speeches  ;  but  it  was  so  much  better  in 
style  and  voice  that  I  feared  it  would  have  influence  over  the 
fluid-minded,  of  whom  every  one  said  there  were  so  many.  How- 
ever, Leonard  got  in  ten  minutes  and  put  on  his  most  impressive 
manner,  which  I  think  was  as  good  as  Harcourt's.  We  feared 
the  Closure  Division  would  have  defeated  us  and  no  one  seemed 
to  know  how  it  would  go.  The  Speaker  told  me  he  thought  we 
should  have  lost.  So  you  may  imagine  our  joy  and  astonish- 
ment at  the  result.  As  to  the  future  it  is  not  likely  to  go  much 


The  main  interest  of  the  session  of  1897,  as  of  1896,  was 
in  foreign  affairs.  The  Cretan  revolt  flamed  into  a  Greco- 
Turkish  war,  in  regard  to  which  British  opinion  was  divided. 
Though  the  Prime  Minister  frankly  confessed  that  in  the 
Crimean  War  we  had  put  our  money  on  the  wrong  horse, 
there  was  still  a  good  deal  of  Turcophil  sentiment  in  society 
and  the  clubs.  Courtney's  sympathies  were  naturally  with 
Greece,  and  he  believed  that  Lord  Salisbury,  who  was  no 
friend  of  the  Turk,  might  have  gained  more  than  autonomy. 
Crete,  he  declared  to  his  constituents  in  April,  had  a  right 
to  join  Greece.  Italy  and  perhaps  France  would  have 
joined  us  in  insisting  on  her  severance  from  Turkey, 
even  if  Russia,  Germany  and  Austria  had  stood  aloof. 
The  Concert  was  paralysed  and  Great  Britain  should  act 
without  it. 

A  more  prolonged  excitement  was  afforded  by  the 
Committee  on  the  Jameson  Raid.  The  Cape  Parliament 
had  already  held  an  inquiry  into  the  conduct  of  Rhodes, 
who,  it  reported,  was  thoroughly  acquainted  with  the 
preparations  but  did  not  order  or  approve  the  Raid  at 
that  particular  moment.  Since  Rhodes  accepted  the  Cape 
Report  the  main  duty  of  the  Committee  which  met  on 
January  16  was  to  institute  a  searching  investigation  into 
the  relations  of  the  Colonial  Office  with  the  Chartered 
Company  and  Johannesburg  ;  but  this  was  precisely  what 
it  omitted  to  do.  Its  proceedings  were  followed  by  Court- 
ney, who  had  specialised  in  South  African  politics  for 
twenty  years,  with  strained  attention.  "  On  the  first  day 
Rhodes  was  a  very  bad  witness,  confused,  uncertain,  shifty," 
he  wrote  on  the  conclusion  of  the  drama ;  ^  "  but  on  the 
second  he  seemed  to  have  recovered  himself,  to  have 
measured  his  enemies,  and  to  be  rather  the  master  of  the 
Committee  than  their  subject.  Harcourt's  style  of  examina- 
tion was  pompous  and  ineffective.  Blake  proved  the  most 
efficient  member  for  purposes  of  examination.  Labouchere 
did  injury  to  the  cause  he  desired  to  serve.  On  the  other 
side  Hicks-Beach  was  ready  and  direct  in  his  questions, 
while  Chamberlain  astonished  his  friends  by  his  imprudences. 

*  In  the  Journal. 

346  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

George  Wyndham  shewed  a  singular  personal  devotion  to 
Rhodes  throughout.  Jackson,  the  Chairman,  was  ill  at  the 
commencement,  and  never  got  a  proper  mastery  of  the 
work."  The  Committee  completed  the  evidence  by  Whit- 
suntide ;  but  after  the  recess  it  recalled  Flora  Shaw,  whose 
interchange  of  telegrams  with  Rhodes  and  Rutherfoord 
Harris,  the  Secretary  of  the  Chartered  Company,  appeared 
to  connect  the  Colonial  Secretary  with  the  Raid.  Suspicion 
was  increased  when  it  was  announced  that  the  Committee 
could  neither  secure  the  attendance  of  Rutherfoord  Harris 
nor  find  out  where  he  was,  and  that  Mr.  Hawksley,  the 
soHcitor  to  the  Chartered  Company,  possessed  some  tele- 
grams which  he  refused  to  produce.  Edward  Blake 
withdrew  in  disgust,  while  Labouchere  drew  up  a  Report 
declaring  that  inquiry  was  fruitless  owing  to  the  refusal  of 
information,  and  regretting  that  the  alleged  compHcity  of 
the  Colonial  Office  was  not  disproved  by  searching  examina- 
tion. The  Majority  Report  sharply  condemned  Rhodes,  but 
pronounced  that  neither  the  Colonial  Secretary  nor  any  of 
his  subordinate  officials  had  any  knowledge  of  the  Raid. 

On  the  pubUcation  of  the  Report  Sir  Wilfrid  Lawson  at 
once  asked  for  a  day  for  its  discussion,  to  which  Mr.  Balfour 
repUed  that  no  useful  purpose  would  be  served.  Labou- 
chere therefore  attempted  to  raise  the  question  of  privilege. 
Since  Mr.  Hawksley  had  refused  documents  demanded  by 
the  Committee,  was  not  any  member  entitled  to  move  that 
he  should  be  brought  to  the  bar  of  the  House  ?  The  Speaker 
rephed  that  there  was  no  precedent  for  such  a  course  and 
that  the  Committee  had  not  urged  it.  Courtney  then  asked 
whether  there  was  any  precedent  for  a  Committee  neglecting 
to  make  such  a  demand  under  such  peculiar  conditions,  and 
whether  the  House  had  lost  its  privilege  merely  because  the 
Committee  had  failed  to  do  its  duty.  It  looked  as  if  there 
would  be  no  debate ;  but  Amold-Forster  rose  to  demand 
a  full  discussion,  attacking  Rhodes,  "  who  has  Ughted  a 
brand  which  will  probably  flame  for  another  century,"  and 
condemning  the  Report.  Mr.  Balfour  angrily  rejoined  that 
if  a  debate  was  desired  why  did  not  the  Opposition  demand 
it  ?     Harcourt  had  now  no  choice  but  to  ask  for  a  day, 


which  was  promptly  gran':ed,  and  Phihp  Stanhope  gave 
notice  of  a  resolution  regretting  the  inconclusive  action  and 
report  of  the  Select  Committee  and  ordering  Hawksley  to 
attend  the  House  and  produce  the  telegrams. 

The  sensational  feature  of  the  debate  on  July  26  was 
Chamberlain's  confession  that  in  signing  the  Report  he  had 
gone  further  than  he  wished  in  order  to  secure  unanimity, 
and  that  Rhodes  had  done  nothing  inconsistent  with  his 
personal  honour.  The  cowardice  of  the  Committee  was 
fiercely  denounced  by  Labouchere  ;  but  by  general  consent 
the  most  impressive  utterance  was  that  of  Leonard  Court- 
ney. After  warmly  acquitting  Chamberlain  of  any  com- 
pUcity  in  the  designs  or  actions  of  Jameson  or  Rhodes,^  he 
denoimced  the  Committee  for  its  failure  to  make  his 
innocence  clear  beyond  cavil.  Rhodes  had  deceived  every 
one  from  first  to  last,  and  was  indeed  steeped  in  deceit.  He 
was  still  open  to  a  prosecution  both  in  England  and  South 
Africa  ;  but  there  were  also  duties  for  the  Government  and 
the  House  to  perform.  "It  is  necessary  that  we  should 
clear  ourselves  absolutely  of  the  past.  If  you  wish  to 
establish  the  reputation  of  this  country,  if  you  wish  to  make 
unsulUed  the  honour  of  our  statesmen,  you  ought  to  shew 
that  in  the^  judgemefit  of  this  House  and  of  this  nation  it 
is  not  to  be  tolerated  that  his  name  should  remain  on  the 
Privy  Council."  The  second  task  was  to  summon  Mr. 
Hawksley  to  the  bar  and  compel  the  production  of  the 
missing  telegrams.  "  We  can  then  face  the  world  with  the 
consciousness  that  no  ground  of  suspicion  has  remained 
unexplored  and  no  attack  has  been  made  which  has  not 
met  with  exposure.  I  maintain  my  fuU  conviction  of  the 
innocence  of  the  Colonial  Secretary ;  but  I  am  bound  to 
say  that  his  own  acts  and  the  action  of  the  Committee 
were  calculated  to  encourage  the  suspicion  of  those  who 
have  not  the  knowledge  of  his  character  that  we  possess. 
Surely  a  great  error  in  judgement  has  been  committed.  It 
may  be  that  this  Resolution  wiU  be  defeated  by  a  large 
majority    (Ministerial   cheers).     That    wiU   not   affect   the 

^  George  Wyndham  told  Wilfrid  Blunt  that  Chamberlain  was  "  in 
with  Jameson  and  Rhodes  "  in  regard  to  the  Raid. — Blunt,  Diaries,  i.  279. 

348  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

judgement  of  posterity  (Opposition  cheers).  Nor  will  it 
affect  my  judgement  (ironical  cheers).  Nor  wiU  it  affect 
the  judgement  of  millions  of  your  fellow-countrymen  here 
(Opposition  cheers).  Nor  wiU  it  affect  the  judgement  of 
those  foreigners  abroad  (Ministerial  laughter)  of  whom  the 
Chancellor  of  the  Exchequer  speaks  with  British  contempt. 
If  one  has  the  pain  of  isolation,  one  may  at  least  have 
something  of  its  reward  and  freedom.  I  for  my  part  shall 
have  no  hesitation,  whatever  the  numbers  against  me,  in 
going  into  the  Lobby  in  support  of  the  motion  "  (Oppo- 
sition cheers  and  Ministerial  ironical  laughter).  The  motion 
was  lost  by  304  to  ']']  and  Courtney's  advice  was  rejected  ; 
but  a  bad  day's  work  had  been  done  for  the  fame  of  the 
British  Empire  and  for  the  peace  of  South  Africa. 


I  sat  in  Mrs.  GuUy's  gallery,  and  a  very  exciting  evening  it 
was.  She  had  labelled  the  seats  so  that  wives  whose  husbands 
were  making  strong  speeches  against  each  other  should  not  sit 
together.  I  was  between  Mrs.  Asquith  and  Mrs.  Labouchere. 
The  former  was  loud  in  praise  of  L.,  and  Lady  Frances  Balfour 
spoke  of  it  as  his  greatest  effort  this  session.  Anyhow  it  simply 
infuriated  Chamberlain,  who  made  a  very  clever  and  biting  speech, 
turning  almost  entirely  to  L.  and  hissing  out  his  words  at  him 
almost  like  a  snake.  And  yet  I  thought  L.  rather  unnecessarily 
proclaimed  his  conviction  of  his  entire  innocence.  I  neither 
beheve  nor  disbelieve. 

The  power  and  sincerity  of  the  speech  impressed  even 
those  who  disagreed  with  his  Une  of  argument. 

From  Sir  James  Knowles 

August  4. — I  cannot  be  writing  to  you  and  not  say  what  I 
have  been  saying  everywhere.  It  was  the  first  speech  I  have 
heard  for  many  years  in  the  House  of  Commons.  It  did  me  good 
to  hear  it,  as  shewing  that  real  and  passionate  oratory  is  not  after 
all  extinct  there  as,  since  the  great  speeches  of  Gladstone,  I  had 
come  to  think.  And  what  I  felt  others  felt  also,  e.g.  Austen 
Chamberlain.  Neither  he  nor  I  shared  your  point  of  view  ;  but 
that  had  nothing  to  do  with  our  delighted  admiration. 


At  the  close  of  the  session  Courtney  set  off  for  a  second 
sojourn  in  Pagenstecher's  Klinik  ;  and  early  in  September 
he  was  informed  that  nothing  more  could  be  done  for  him. 
There  was  no  danger  of  the  sight  growing  worse,  and  with 
time  it  might  possibly  improve.  He  was  rewarded  for  his 
internment  at  Wiesbaden  by  one  of  the  most  interesting 
hohdays  of  his  hfe.  TravelUng  by  Vienna,  where  he  saw 
Goluchowski,  the  Foreign  Minister,  and  Lavino,  the  cele- 
brated correspondent  of  the  Times,  he  took  ship  at  Trieste 
for  Patras,  among  his  fellow-passengers  being  Count  Burian, 
the  newly-appointed  Minister  to  Greece.  At  Athens  he 
entrusted  himself  to  the  keeping  of  his  friend  Sir  Edwin 
Egerton,  the  British  Minister.  His  first  visit  was  to  the 
King,  who  was  residing  at  his  country  home  at  Tatoi.  The 
war  was  over,  but  the  defeated  country  was  stiU  rocking 
on  its  foundations. 

Journal  (dictated) 

He  spoke  fluently  in  good  familiar  English,  wrong  accents 
shewing  that  he  was  a  foreigner  but  rarely  at  a  loss  for  a  word. 
"  You  have  come  at  a  very  grave  time,"  he  began  ;  and  for  some 
time  he  allowed  no  opportunity  of  interjecting  an  observation, 
so  full  was  he  of  the  situation.  It  was  rather  a  monotonous 
complaint  that  the  Greeks  had  no  friends.  Everybody  else  had 
had  friends  and  protectors — Bulgarians,  Serbians,  Turks.  Even 
in  Crete  nothing  was  done,  though  everything  had  been  promised. 
During  the  thirty  odd  years  of  his  reign  there  had  been  almost 
annually  disturbances  in  Crete,  and  Greece  always  suffered.  Now 
they  were  overwhelmed  with  Thessalian  refugees.  The  burden 
was  terrible.  They  had  never  been  consulted  about  the  negotia- 
tions, and  he  did  not  know  whether  the  Assembly  would  accept 
the  treaty.  He  shewed  great  feeling  against  Germany  and  said 
it  was  all  very  well  giving  way  to  her ;  but  that  might  produce 
constantly  increasing  demands  and  a  worse  situation  in  the  long 
run.  I  spoke  soothingly  of  the  popular  feeling  in  England  and 
expressed  my  belief  that  there  was  also  much  S5mipathy  in  France, 
though  she  had  unhappily  got  lost  in  the  alliance.  He  repUed 
that  Hanotaux  had  threatened  that  even  Crete  could  not  be  free. 
I  said  that  if  the  Powers  went  back  in  respect  of  Crete  they  would 
be  dishonoured,  and  I  told  him  that  I  had  spoken  myself  on  the 
duty  of  insisting  on  Cretan  independence.  He  said  he  had  told 
Dilke  all  his  views  in  Paris  last  year,  and  expressed  a  high  opinion 

350  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

of  his  knowledge  and  experience.  I  said  it  was  a  loss  that  he 
could  not  be  in  a  responsible  position.  The  conversation  then 
reverted  to  more  ordinary  matters,  such  as  his  vineyards.  At 
last  I  said.  Your  Majesty  is  giving  me  a  good  deal  of  your  time. 
Presently  he  rose.  Passing  a  bookshelf  in  the  corridor  he  put  his 
hand  upon  a  volume  and  said,  "  Here  is  Dilke's  book."  I 
ventured  to  ask  whether  he  saw  the  Nineteenth  Century.  He 
said  he  had  it  regularly.  I  said  the  last  number  had  an  article 
of  mine.  "  I  shall  read  it  with  more  interest  after  seeing  you," 
he  repUed  ;  and  so  with  mutual  thanks  we  parted. 

A  day  or  two  later  the  traveller  visited  Skoloudis,  the 
Foreign  Minister,  who  remarked  that  they  were  all  very 
grateful  for  what  he  had  said  and  done  on  behalf  of  Greece. 
"  I  was  a  little  surprised,  and  answered  that  I  had  said 
little  and  done  less,  to  which  he  replied  it  had  all  been 
observed  and  welcomed.  He  thought  the  Balkan  question 
could  be  settled  if  an  honest  broker  intervened.  If  such  an 
arbiter  went  to  the  different  States  and  found  out  the 
pretensions  of  each  he  might  make  a  distribution  which 
would  be  accepted  by  aU.  Mr.  Gladstone  had  once  thrown 
out  the  idea  of  a  Balkan  Confederation,  and  he  thought  it 
might  be  accomplished.  I  repUed  that  in  my  opinion  the 
Cretan  question  should  be  severed  absolutely  from  the 
Balkan,  and  that  I  was  prepared  as  the  price  of  hberating 
Crete  to  concur  in  action  preventing  for  some  time  at  least 
any  movement  in  the  Balkans.  He  assented,  saying  that 
the  Balkan  solution  he  was  thinking  of  might  be  a  matter 
of  ten  or  twenty  years."  His  next  visit  was  to  Ralli,  who 
had  taken  office  in  order  to  make  peace.  The  Prime  Minister, 
who  impressed  him  as  a  clear-sighted  and  energetic  man, 
complained  of  the  terrible  treaty.  "  How  Great  Britain 
could  have  assented  to  and  indeed  suggested  the  Control 
was  inexplicable.  I  observed  that  it  might  be  a  light  or  a 
heavy  matter.  If  the  required  payments  were  pimctually 
made,  it  would  practically  do  nothing.  He  said,'  No  !  No  ! 
the  Control  has  a  right  to  participation  in  all  excess  values  ; 
consequently  whether  revenues  can  be  increased  or  expenses 
cut  down  are  matters  for  it,  and  the  leading  voice  wiU  come 
from  Germany.     One  or  two  Powers  have  already  intimated 


a  doubt  whether  they  would  send  representatives.  England 
is  comparatively  indifferent.  Such  constant  and  pervading 
interference  will  be  worse  than  the  occupation  of  Thessaly," 
On  the  following  day  the  Chamber  met  to  discuss  the  treaty, 
and  the  British  PhUhellene  watched  the  proceedings  from 
the  Diplomatic  tribune,  with  the  Legation  interpreter  at 
his  elbow.  The  Chamber  was  quiet  and  orderly,  but  after 
his  departure  Delyannis  carried  a  vote  of  no  confidence  in 
his  successors,  and  Zaimis  was  at  once  installed  in  office. 
He  had  formed  a  pleasant  impression  of  the  Greeks,  and 
carried  home  a  deeper  knowledge  of  Greek  poUtics  than 
Lord  Salisbury  himself  possessed. 

On  his  return  he  delivered  an  address  to  his  constituents, 
warmly  defending  the  cause  of  Greece.  "  I  found  in  Athens 
a  sober  people,  grave,  self-restrained,  though  discouraged 
and  cured  of  any  flightiness.  I  attended  the  National 
Assembly,  which  had  to  consider  the  terms  of  peace  agreed 
upon  by  the  Powers,  and  I  never  saw  a  more  business-like 
or  orderly  body."  It  was  said  they  deserved  their  fate. 
He,  at  any  rate,  should  not  condemn  them,  for  they  saw 
their  brothers  across  a  few  miles  of  sea  subject  to  the  tyranny 
from  which  they  had  escaped.  The  Cretan  question  was 
but  part  of  the  great  drama  of  the  Near  East.  Though  it 
might  not  be  free  to-morrow,  the  day  of  its  Hberation  could 
not  be  delayed.  Lord  SaUsbury  ought  to  have  plainly  told 
the  other  Powers  that  the  island  was  ripe  for  freedom  and 
asked  them  to  join  in  informing  the  Sultan  of  their  decision. 
The  invitation  might  have  been  rejected,  and  he  did  not 
blame  the  Prime  Minister,  who  had  secured  complete 
autonomy,  and  had  saved  Greece  from  the  loss  of  territory. 
The  Greeks  had  been  defeated  by  the  Turkish  armies,  but 
they  had  won  liberty  for  their  brothers  by  their  magnificent 

From  Herbert  Paul 

October  29,  1897. — I  cannot  resist  the  pleasure  of  expressing 
my  hearty  admiration  for  your  noble  speech  at  Torpoint.  Nothing 
has  disgusted  me  more  in  the  whole  of  this  latest  phase  of  the 
eternal  Eastern  Question  than  the  new,  and  what  used  to  be 
considered  un-English,  habit  of  kicking  people  when  they  are 

352  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

down.  Your  splendid  vindication  of  the  Greeks  will  be  read  all 
over  Europe,  and  will  do  something  to  redeem  the  honour  of 
British  statesmanship.  I  only  wish  the  leaders  of  our  own  party 
had  spoken  out  ^\ith  equal  wisdom  and  courage. 

Courtney's  independent  speeches  on  Education  and 
South  Africa,  Egypt  and  Greece,  made  his  political  position 
a  theme  of  lively  discussion  in  the  Press.  Unionists  natur- 
ally resented  the  activities  of  the  candid  friend.  "If  he 
would  only  rejoin  the  Radicals,"  sneered  Colonel  Saunderson, 
"  I  should  always  be  sure  of  meeting  him  in  the  Unionist 
lobby."  The  Daily  Mail,  in  one  of  its  Letters  to  Leaders, 
called  him  an  umpire  who  always  gave  his  own  side  out. 
The  Liberal  Press,  not  less  naturally,  was  loud  in  his  praises. 
"  When  Mr.  Samuel  Whitbread  retired,"  wrote  the  Echo 
in  a  character  sketch,  "  his  place  as  the  vir  pietate  gravis  of 
the  House  was  at  once  taken  by  Leonard  Courtney.  He 
has  become  its  most  useful  member."  The  Daily  Chronicle, 
then  at  the  zenith  of  its  influence  under  the  guidance  of 
Mr.  Massingham,  issued  something  like  a  formal  invitation 
to  rejoin  his  old  comrades.  "  We  gain  more  from  him  of 
solid  reasoning,  ample  information  and  a  certain  large  and 
luminous  view  than  from  any  other  public  man.  One  might 
say  of  him  what  Gladstone  said  of  MiU,  that  he  is  the  con- 
science of  the  House  of  Commons.  We  know  of  no  one 
who  so  adequately  fills  the  position  in  public  Ufe  formerly 
occupied  by  Mill.  He  is  always  determined  to  look  all 
round  every  question,  and  he  will  not  be  put  off  by  claptrap 
or  rhetoric,  by  class  or  even  national  bias.  If  occasionally 
he  conveys  the  impression  of  lecturing  the  House  or  being 
righteous  overmuch,  that  is  a  pardonable  attitude  for  a 
trained  intellect  and  a  resolute  character.  He  cannot  be 
altogether  happy  with  his  present  associates.  He  is  Liberal 
in  every  fibre  of  his  moral  being.  We  could  not  name  any 
pubHc  man  on  the  Liberal  side,  unless  it  be  Mr.  Morley,  who 
is  a  better  representative  of  all  that  Liberalism  means  and 
has  meant  to  the  world.  Will  he  not  join  the  Liberal 
party  ?  "  The  growing  severance  from  the  Coalition  was 
felt  no  less  in  Cheyne  Walk  than  in  Fleet  Street.  "  Unless 
Gerald  Balfour's  forthcoming  Irish  Local  Government  Bill 


pulls  him  into  work  with  the  Unionist  party,"  wrote  his 
wife  in  her  Journal,  "  it  seems  to  me  he  must  get  more 
separated.  However,  the  only  thing  is  to  take  every  event 
as  it  comes." 

The  Irish  Bill  of  i8g8,  which  Courtney  had  demanded 
for  nearly  twenty  years,  contained  no  provision  for  pro- 
portional representation,  but  in  aU  other  respects  it  secured 
his  approval  and  active  support.  An  amendment  to  the 
Address  demanding  a  Catholic  University  provided  a  fresh 
opportunity  for  displaying  his  sympathy  with  every  Irish 
demand  save  Home  Rule.  He  had  hoped  that  Trinity 
College  would  be  frequented  by  Catholics  after  Fawcett's 
Bill  had  thrown  it  completely  open  in  1873;  but  he  had 
been  disappointed.  He  regretted  equally  that  the  Queen's 
Colleges  had  been  condemned  by  the  Church.  He  was  still 
a  friend  of  undenominational  education ;  but  he  was  ready 
to  support  a  University  for  Catholics  in  which  non-CathoUcs 
were  permitted  to  study,  to  win  prizes  or  to  sit  on  the 
governing  body.  Such  a  scheme,  he  believed,  could  be 
carried.  It  was  sound  advice  ;  and  in  solving  the  problem 
more  than  twenty  years  later  Mr.  Birrell  followed  the  course 
he  had  marked  out.  While,  however,  he  recognised  the 
justice  of  the  claim  to  a  University  which  Catholics  could 
frequent  with  the  fuU  approval  of  the  Church,  he  declined 
to  accept  the  verdict  of  the  Childers  Commission  that 
Ireland  was  overtaxed,  bluntly  remarking  that  the  excessive 
consumption  of  spirits,  to  which  the  apparent  injustice  was 
due,  was  entirely  her  own  choice. 

While  the  legislative  harvest  of  the  session  of  1898 
secured  his  approval,  Courtney  was  fiUed  with  apprehension 
by  the  thunder-clouds  gathering  in  different  parts  of  the 
world,  and  by  the  growth  of  an  ugly  temper  in  the  British 
Isles,  A  storm  of  anger  broke  out  when  Russia  seized  Port 
Arthur,  and  Lord  Salisbury  was  fiercely  denounced  in  the 
Press  for  taking  no  steps  to  restrain  Russian  aggression. 
Though  condemning  the  annexation  of  Wei-hai-Wei, 
Courtney  as  usual  defended  the  Prime  Minister  against  his 
mutinous  pack  ;  but  he  argued  that  the  solution  of  the 
Far  Eastern  question  was  to  be  found  not  in  land-grabbing, 

2  A 

354  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

but  in  an  international  compact  for  free  trade  and  the  open 
door — a  policy  of  wisdom  soon  to  be  proclaimed  from  the 
housetops  by  Secretary  Hay.  What  might  have  happened 
had  Port  Arthur  been  in  the  sphere  of  the  Colonial  Office 
was  too  terrible  to  contemplate.  Though  the  danger  of 
war  with  Russia  was  averted  by  the  self-control  of  the 
Prime  Minister,  who  was  also  Foreign  Secretary,  colonial 
expansion  in  Africa  had  led  to  continued  friction  with 
France,  and  in  the  spring  of  1898  a  crisis  seemed  to  be  at 


March. — Everywhere  one  hears  talk  of  war.  Mr.  C.  is  a 
terrible  man  for  Colonial  Secretary  just  now.  "  Pushful  Joe," 
as  the  Westminster  calls  him.  Some  weeks  ago  he  sent  the  press 
and  the  public  into  excitement  over  the  West  African  hinterland, 
reading  some  telegrams  in  theatrical  style  the  last  thing  one 
evening  in  the  House.  And  I  fear  he  has  captured  a  good  section 
of  the  press.  Lord  Salisbury'  calmed  us  all  down  by  a  pretty 
straight  denial  of  tension  with  France  ;  but  the  general  feeling 
does  not  stamp  on  this  folly,  and  a  good  many  of  the  Liberal 
papers  and  members  carp  at  all  concessions.  Those  who  do  see 
the  other  side  of  the  picture  are  fearful  of  precipitating  what 
they  dread  by  words  which  may  deceive  France  as  to  the  feeling 
of  the  Government  and  perhaps  the  nation.  John  Morley  came 
to  consult  L.  before  speaking  at  Leicester,  which  he  did  strongly 
and  very  wisely. 

Courtney  uttered  a  vigorous  protest  against  the  rising 
tide  of  jingoism  in  addressing  his  constituents  during  the 
Easter  recess.  "  I  believe  there  is  no  danger  of  war  with 
Russia,"  he  began  ;  "  but  there  has  been  real  danger  of 
war  with  France.  Complaints  have  been  made  of  late  that 
she  has  been  unfriendly  in  Siam,  Tunis,  Madagascar,  New- 
foundland, and  elsewhere,  and  people  complain  that  Lord 
SaUsbury  is  too  yielding  to  her.  I  have  a  very  high  opinion 
of  him.  He  has  a  large  spirit,  equable  temper  and  great 
experience,  and  nobody  could  replace  him.  Serious  men 
in  London  have  been  occupied  with  the  thought  that  we 
may  find  ourselves  at  war  about  the  west  coast  of  Africa. 
France  and  ourselves  may  without  boasting  say  we  are  the 


most  prominent  civilised  nations  of  the  world,  though 
perhaps  the  United  States  shows  greater  promise  for  the 
future.  Would  it  not  be  a  terrible  scandal  if  we  should  find 
ourselves  at  war  unless  there  is  some  really  substantial 
ground  of  complaint  ?  Sierra  Leone  is  a  death-trap  and 
the  trade  of  West  Africa  is  a  trifle.  As  the  result  of  the 
scramble  for  Africa  the  doctrine  of  Hinterland  has  arisen 
and  the  frontiers  have  got  mixed  up.  A  Commission  has 
been  sitting  in  Paris,  and  has  made  progress ;  but  there  is  a 
danger  lest  some  energetic  agent  on  the  spot  should  start  a 
conflagration.  If  the  Commission  fails  to  agree,  why  not 
submit  the  disputed  issue  to  arbitration  ?  " 

While  British  and  French  Hotspurs  were  spitting  fire  at 
each  other,  war  broke  out  between  Spain  and  the  United 
States,  When  the  Maine  was  destroyed  in  the  harbour  of 
Havana,  Courtney  was  invited  to  state  his  views  in  the 
Daily  Chronicle,  and  vainly  attempted  to  pour  oil  on  the 
raging  waters.  There  was  absolutely  no  reason  for  war, 
he  pointed  out ;  for  Spain  had  changed  her  Ministry,  and 
had  promised  autonomy  to  Cuba.  He  did  not  for  a  moment 
believe  that  the  Maine  had  been  blown  up,  and  the  cause 
of  the  occurrence  should  be  impartially  determined.  Similar 
appeals  to  reason  were  made  by  eminent  American  citizens 
of  the  type  of  Charles  Eliot  Norton  ;  but  the  fate  of  the 
Maine  set  the  passions  of  the  Republic  ablaze.  The  conflict 
was  soon  over,  and  at  the  end  of  August  he  was  pressed  by 
an  American  journal  {The  Independent)  to  express  his  opinion 
on  the  result.  In  impressive  tones  he  warns  his  trans- 
atlantic readers  against  the  foundation  of  an  overseas 
Empire  and  the  allurements  of  Imperialism.  "  I  recognise 
the  sympathy  which  called  for  the  use  of  force  to  end  mis- 
government  in  Cuba.  But  if  the  United  States  are  in  no 
danger  of  attack  and  contemplate  war  only  as  the  fulfilment 
of  the  obligation  of  the  strong  to  succour  the  weak,  nothing 
which  has  occurred  during  the  last  six  months  should  pro- 
voke men  to  depart  from  the  standing  policy  of  the  Repubhc. 
The  conquest  of  the  Philippines  leads  people  to  say  that 
something  must  be  kept  for  the  sake  of  American  commerce 
in  the  Pacific.     The  crusading  spirit  has  vanished,  and  the 

356  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

Imperialist  has  taken  the  place  of  the  Liberator.  There  is 
no  need  of  overseas  territory  for  an  overflowing  population. 
'  The  pity  on't '  is  the  final  feeling  of  a  friendly  Englishman 
musing  over  the  possible  outcome  of  the  Cuban  War.  But 
I  do  not  yet  abandon  hope  of  a  renunciation  of  the  greed  of 
conquest,  making  the  Republic  an  example  of  self-restraint." 
Among  the  crowding  events  of  the  summer  of  1898  was 
the  Tsar's  Rescript  on  disarmament,  issued  while  Courtney 
was  holiday-making  in  the  Tirol.  His  first  speech  to  his 
constituents  after  his  return  was  devoted  to  a  warm  welcome 
to  the  proposal  which  had  arrested  the  attention  of  the 
world.  "  The  secret  if  not  the  spoken  question  of  many  men 
is.  Who  can  believe  in  the  sincerity  of  the  Tsar  ?  Can  any- 
thing good  come  out  of  Russia  ?  I  have  no  difficulty  in 
accepting  his  action  as  sincere.  Alexander  I.  conceived  the 
idea  of  establishing  among  the  monarchs  of  Europe  the 
bonds  of  perpetual  peace.  Alexander  II.  emancipated  the 
serfs.  Alexander  III.  kept  the  peace  unbroken.  Any  one 
who  detects  mere  selfishness,  a  mere  attempt  to  overreach 
other  nations  in  the  act  of  Nicholas  II.  is  blind.  Whether 
practicable  or  illusory,  it  is  a  noble  and  worthy  proposal. 
But  is  it  practicable  ?  The  answer  depends  mainly  on 
ourselves.  The  conception  lacks  completeness ;  for  it  is 
impossible  to  build  peace  and  disarmament  on  a  status  quo 
which  involves  so  many  injustices.  A  general  agreement  is 
unHkely  ;  but  agreement  for  the  reduction  of  armaments 
and  for  recourse  to  arbitration  between  two,  three  or  more 
States  would  be  a  useful  beginning.  The  limitation  of 
arbitrary  action  is  the  essence  of  the  task  to  which  the  Tsar 
summons  us.  Let  us  not  be  content  to  meet  it  with  a  burst 
of  admiration  to-day  and  then  to-morrow  resort  to  arms 
instead  of  to  law  in  the  first  quarrel  in  which  we  are  in- 
volved." The  speech  was  one  of  the  first  welcoming 
utterances  in  England  ;  and  when  Stead  showed  it  to  the 
Tsar  ten  days  later  at  Livadia,  he  was  met  with  the  reply, 
"  I  read  it  to  my  wife  last  night."  Though  joining  in  the 
solemn  protest  against  Russian  encroachments  on  the 
constitutional  liberties  of  Finland,  Courtney  actively  co- 
operated in  the  educational  campaign,   organised  by  the 


indefatigable  editor  of  the  Review  of  Reviews.  He  took 
Mr.  Morley's  place  as  principal  speaker  at  a  great  demonstra- 
tion at  Queen's  Hall  in  the  spring  of  1899,  and  an  article 
in  the  May  number  of  the  Contemporary  Review  offered  some 
practical  advice  to  the  Conference.  The  Umitation  of 
armaments,  he  argued,  was  useless  when  imposed  by  force, 
as  on  Prussia  after  Jena  and  on  Russia  after  the  Crimean 
War,  but  of  enduring  value  when  freely  accepted  by  both 
parties,  as  in  the  neutralisation  of  the  frontier  between 
Canada  and  the  United  States.  He  was  more  hopeful  of 
the  revival  of  Lord  Clarendon's  suggestion  to  the  Powers 
assembled  at  Paris  in  1856  that  in  the  event  of  a  dispute 
the  other  Powers  should  be  invited  to  mediate  before 
hostilities  were  begun.  Such  a  covenant  would  almost 
certainly  have  prevented  the  Spanish-American  War  of 
1898,  if  not  the  Franco-German  War  of  1870,  "  We  cannot 
go  to  the  Hague  in  a  sanguine  spirit ;  but  we  shall  escape 
the  responsibilities  of  failure  if  we  work  for  its  success  in 
singleness  of  spirit." 

A  far  more  urgent  issue  was  raised  When  Kitchener, 
fresh  from  his  overwhelming  victory  at  Omdurman,  marched 
south  and  found  the  French  flag  flying  at  Fashoda.  The 
West  African  crisis  of  the  spring  had  been  amicably  settled ; 
but  the  struggle  for  the  valley  of  the  Nile  was  of  old  standing 
and  was  embittered  for  France  by  the  memory  of  lost 
opportunities  and  defeat.  In  despatching  the  Marchand 
mission  from  West  Africa  the  French  Government  had 
taken  a  very  grave  step  ;  for  Sir  Edward  Grey's  warning  of 
1895  had  been  more  than  once  repeated  by  Lord  Salisbury, 
and  the  advance  to  Dongola  in  1896  suggested  that  there 
would  be  no  halting  till  the  whole  of  the  Sudan  was  re- 
covered. France  had  therefore  no  ground  for  surprise 
when  the  Major  was  politely  but  firmly  requested  by  the 
British  General  to  haul  down  his  flag. 

During  the  days  of  breathless  suspense  when  the  French 
Cabinet  was  deciding  whether  to  submit  or  to  fight,  Courtney 
discussed  the  situation  with  his  constituents  at  Bodmin. 
He  began  by  reiterating  his  disapproval  of  the  reconquest 
of  the  Sudan.     To  obtain  and  retain  those  "  worthless  and 

358  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

worse  than  worthless  provinces  "  was  to  the  interest  neither 
of  Egypt  nor  of  England.  The  enterprise  had  proved  less 
difficult  than  he  had  expected ;  but  the  cheap  price  of  mihtary 
success  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  wisdom  or  unwisdom  of 
the  poUcy.  The  issue  of  the  moment,  however,  was  not  the 
reconquest  of  the  Sudan  but  the  danger  of  war  with  France. 
He  was  a  lover  of  France  ;  but  in  the  last  two  years  she  had 
caused  him  a  good  deal  of  anxiety.  Much  had  happened 
that  inspired  regret,  and  the  Drej^us  case  had  shown  that 
the  military  element  was  far  too  powerful.  In  the  present 
controversy  England  was  in  the  right,  and  we  could  fairly 
claim  that  Major  Marchand  should  lower  his  flag  and  that 
Fashoda  should  not  be  French  territory.  We  should,  how- 
ever, put  ourselves  in  the  wrong  if  we  were  to  expel  him  by 
force  without  listening  to  argument.  France  maintained 
that  the  Sudan  belonged  to  the  Khedive,  and  that  in  claim- 
ing the  whole  valley  of  the  Nile  Great  Britain  was  usurping 
his  powers.  Our  action  had  been  hke  that  of  a  man  who 
erects  a  board  in  a  field  with  the  notice.  Trespassers  will  be 
prosecuted.  But  that  is  merely  a  claim  to  ownership, 
which,  if  disputed,  must  be  settled  in  court.  He  hoped  and 
beheved  that  France  would  yield  ;  but  if  she  refused  to 
evacuate  Fashoda,  every  means  of  peaceful  settlement  must 
be  exhausted  before  recourse  was  had  to  arms.  "  My  last 
word  is  a  protest  against  the  assumption  that  there  is  no 
other  method  of  settling  the  difference  than  by  compelling 
her  to  give  way  by  superior  force."  Fortunately  Delcasse 
had  recently  been  installed  in  the  Quai  d'Orsay,  and  the 
French  Cabinet  wisely  decided  to  withdraw  from  the  Nile 
Valley  and  to  look  for  compensations  elsewhere.  Courtney's 
plea  for  sanity  was  read  with  profound  gratitude  by  moderate 
men  in  France,  among  them  a  friend  whose  mastery  of  the 
Enghsh  language  no  less  than  of  EngHsh  hterature  made 
him  a  natural  mediator  between  the  two  countries  in 
moments  of  excitement. 

From  J.  Jusserand 

November  8,  1898. — I  found  on  coming  home  after  a  short  and 
only  too  needed  time  of  rest  the  paper  you  kindly  sent  me.     I 


read  with  the  deepest  sympathy  the  most  sensible  and  true  speech 
that  was  pronounced  on  that  very  sad  question  ;  a  speech  not 
the  less  manly  because  it  was  human.  You  said  the  absolute 
truth,  and  I  think  that  if  ever  there  was  a  question  for  discussion 
this  was  the  one.  It  seems  unbelievable  that  one  of  the  two 
interested  countries  shows  herself  bent  upon  war  and  makes  even 
now  all  preparations  for  it,  when  it  is  remembered  that  the 
territory  in  question  belonged  altogether  for  some  ten  years  to 
Egypt,  that  it  has  been  given  up  fifteen  years  ago,  and  that,  when 
it  was  part  of  Egypt,  that  country  was  under  an  Anglo-French 
condominium.  Is  it  not  strange  that  the  affair  has  been  practi- 
cally managed  not  at  all  as  it  seems  by  Government  but  by 
a  "  yellow  press  "  which  was  supposed  to  exist  only  in  other 
countries,  and  at  a  time  when  there  are  Cecils  left  ?  I  hope  your 
wise  and  just  appreciation  of  the  case  will  not  soon  be  forgotten, 
and  I,  for  one,  will  ever  gratefully  remember  it.  Best  compli- 
ments to  Mrs.  Courtney  from  us  both. 

Neither  the  victory  of  Omdurman  nor  the  pacific  solution 
of  the  Fashoda  crisis  modified  Courtney's  view ;  and  when 
Mr.  Morley  discussed  the  policy  at  the  opening  of  the  session 
of  1899  he  was  supported  by  his  brother-in-arms.  The 
conquest  of  the  Sudan,  he  declared,  was  to  be  condemned 
in  the  interests  both  of  England  and  of  Egypt.  Our  arm 
would  be  weakened  by  locking  up  part  of  our  forces  and  by 
the  embitterment  of  the  standing  feud  with  France.  It 
was  quite  untrue  to  declare  that  the  control  of  the  whole 
course  of  the  Nile  was  necessary  to  our  hold  on  Egypt ;  for 
Eg3^t  and  the  Sudan  had  seldom  belonged  to  the  same 
ruler,  and  Egypt's  southern  frontier  was  defended  by  the 
desert.  The  critics  were  supported  with  voice  and  vote 
by  Campbell-Bannerman,  who  succeeded  Harcourt  as  the 
Liberal  leader  shortly  before  Christmas,  and  opposed  with 
vote  and  voice  by  Sir  Edward  Grey.  The  division  was 
prophetic  of  the  struggle  for  the  soul  of  the  Liberal  party 
which  was  to  break  out  before  the  New  Year  had  closed. 

Courtney's  deep  conviction  that  tropical  territories  were 
more  trouble  than  they  were  worth  was  illustrated  in  his 
Presidential  Address  to  the  Royal  Statistical  Society,  de- 
livered on  December  13.  "  An  Experiment  on  Commercial 
Expansion  "  dealt  with  the  Belgian  attempt  to  open  up  new 

36o  LIFE  OF  LORD  COURTNEY  chap. 

markets.  Merely  glancing  at  the  inhumanities  of  the  white 
men,  the  story  of  which  was  at  that  time  not  fully  known, 
he  reviews  the  situation  from  the  neutral  standpoint  of  an 
economist,  and  presents  a  balance-sheet  of  deficits  and  dis- 
appointment. "  The  result  is  sadly  disproportionate  to  the 
anticipations  of  the  enterprise.  The  value  of  the  outlet 
for  commerce  is  no  more  significant  than  the  value  of  the 
outlet  for  men.  A  greater,  more  certain,  more  durable 
change  would  have  been  effected  had  missionaries,  Catholic 
and  Protestant,  Belgian,  English  and  American,  been 
allowed  to  pursue  their  labours  in  peace.  King  Leopold 
would  not  be  at  the  head  of  a  region  equal  to  Western 
Europe  ;  but  a  score  of  Livingstones,  if  such  a  number  could 
be  obtained,  would  effect  a  more  enduring  triumph." 

The  session  of  1899  opened  quietly  with  the  introduction 
of  the  London  Government  Bill  by  Mr.  Balfour,  creating 
boroughs  with  a  Mayor,  Aldermen  and  Councillors,  and 
entrusting  to  them  the  duties  performed  by  the  Vestries 
and  other  minor  boards.  The  Chairman  of  the  Unification 
Committee  naturally  regretted  that  the  City  remained  un- 
touched ;  but  he  blessed  the  measure  on  its  Second  Reading 
as  a  valuable  instalment.  In  Committee  his  main  efforts 
were  directed  to  championing  the  rights  of  women  to  share 
in  the  burdens  and  privileges  of  local  administration.  A 
motion  excluding  women  from  the  position  of  Alderman 
and  Mayor  was  carried  by  155  to  124  ;  but  on  Report  he 
carried  their  claim  to  be  Aldermen  and  Councillors  by  196 
to  161.  Though  Lord  Salisbury  for  once  supported  the 
cause  of  progress,  the  Lords  struck  out  the  amendment. 
When  the  measure  returned  to  the  House  of  Commons 
Courtney  proposed  that  women  should  be  eligible  as  Coun- 
cillors though  not  as  Aldermen ;  but  this  compromise  was 
opposed  by  the  Government  and  defeated. 

The  most  notable  domestic  debate  of  the  session  arose  on 
the  Budget,  which  partially  suspended  the  Sinking  Fund 
on  the  ground  that  Consols  could  only  be  redeemed  at  an 
extravagant  price.  A  damaging  attack  came  from  Harcourt, 
who,  though  he  had  resigned  the  leadership  of  his  party, 
spoke   with   the    authority   of    an    ex  -  Chancellor   of   the 


Exchequer.  But  the  most  impressive  feature  of  the  dis- 
cussion was  Courtney's  grave  appeal  to  the  House  to  regard 
the  action  of  the  Government  in  large  perspective.  A 
technical  analysis  of  the  Budget  was  followed  by  a  philo- 
sophic survey  of  the  industrial  and  political  situation.  We 
had  narrowly  escaped  a  great  war  in  the  previous  year,  and 
the  world  was  full  of  rivalry  and  bitterness.  Nothing  but 
war  could  justify  an  arrest  of  the  reduction  of  debt,  and  a 
steady  diminution  of  our  burden  was  the  best  financial 
preparation  for  a  possible  conflict.  But  even  if  perpetual 
peace  were  assured,  he  should  oppose  the  raid  on  the  Sinking 
Fund.  Our  commercial  superiority  was  coming  to  an  end, 
for  the  United  States,  with  their  unlimited  supplies  of  raw 
materials  and  their  teeming  population,  were  passing  us  in 
the  race.  Jevons's  forecast  of  the  approaching  exhaustion 
of  our  coal,  which  he  had  chosen  for  the  theme  of  his  Presi- 
dential Address  to  the  Statistical  Society  in  1897,  was  being 
confirmed  by  experience ;  and  his  advice  to  prepare  for  the 
years  of  increasing  strain  by  paying  off  debt  was  as  sound 
in  1899  as  in  1866.  "If  we  entertain  apprehensions  in 
regard  to  the  struggle  for  industrial  supremacy,  now  is  the 
time — when  we  are  most  prosperous  and  have  abundant 
occupation  for  our  people — to  prepare  for  the  future  by 
removing  the  impediments  which  may  hinder  us  in  the 
struggle  for  Ufe."  The  House,  we  are  told,  hstened  spell- 
bound to  the  warning ;  but  its  receptive  moods  are  always 
transient,  and  the  suspension  of  the  Sinking  Fund  was 
carried  by  the  normal  majority.  A  few  weeks  later  the 
skies  darkened  rapidly,  and  the  prophecies  of  Cassandra 
were  recalled  by  some  who  had  paid  little  heed  to  them  on 
a  bright  afternoon  in  May. 



Throughout  his  Parliamentary  career  Courtney  had  been 
the  most  vigilant  observer  and  the  most  effective  critic  of 
British  poHcy  in  South  Africa.  He  had  protested  against 
the  annexation  of  the  Transvaal  without  the  consent  of  its 
inhabitants.  He  had  urged  Gladstone  to  restore  its  inde- 
pendence without  waiting  for  a  rebellion.  He  had  adjured 
the  SaHsbury  Government  to  record  its  disapproval  of  the 
Raid  by  excluding  Rhodes  from  the  Privy  Coimcil.  He 
had  demanded  that  the  cloud  of  suspicion  should  be  dis- 
pelled by  the  production  of  the  Hawksley  telegrams.  In 
every  case  his  advice  was  neglected,  with  disastrous  cumula- 
tive results  to  the  peace  of  the  world.  Careful  steering  was 
more  than  ever  needed  after  the  Raid  ;  but  the  new  pilot 
was  ill-fitted  by  temperament  for  a  situation  that  required 
not  only  firmness  but  patience  and  tact.  Only  a  few  weeks 
after  he  had  given  his  testimonial  to  Rhodes  as  a  man  of 
honour.  Chamberlain  hghted  another  fuse  by  reviving  the 
claim  to  suzerainty,  which  was  deliberately  omitted  by 
Lord  Derby  in  the  Convention  of  1884,  and  to  which  no 
appeal  was  made  by  British  statesmen  in  the  following 
thirteen  years.  In  the  light  of  these  facts  it  was  not  surpris- 
ing that  the  Transvaal  and  Orange  Free  State  should  form 
an  alliance  in  1897,  that  arms  and  ammunition  should  be 
ordered  from  Europe,  and  that  Kruger  should  be  re-elected 
in  1898  by  an  overwhelming  majority,  many  Boers  voting 
for  him  as  the  symbol  of  national  independence  who  had 
voted  for  and  almost  succeeded  in  electing  the  progressive 



Joubert  in   1893.     Krugerism  was  dying  when  the   Raid 
gave  it  a  new  lease  of  Ufe. 

Since  the  discovery  of  gold  in  1886  Transvaal  politics 
had  revolved  in  a  vicious  circle.  An  army  of  speculators 
and  miners  swarmed  into  the  midst  of  a  conservative  farm- 
ing community,  and  a  great  cosmopolitan  city  arose  within 
forty  miles  of  Pretoria.  Fearing  that  the  immigrants  would 
swamp  the  hardly  won  national  hfe  of  the  Boers  through 
sheer  weight  of  numbers,  the  President  excluded  the  new- 
comers, whom  he  regarded  as  mere  birds  of  passage,  from 
any  share  in  the  poHtical  control  of  the  country.  Had  the 
Government  been  reasonably  efficient,  the  anomaly  might 
have  been  tolerated  ;  but  the  regime  was  corrupt  as  well  as 
reactionary.  In  1894  Lord  Loch,  the  High  Commissioner, 
visited  Pretoria  and  informed  the  President  that  he  must 
make  concessions.  The  warning  was  unheeded,  and  the 
Raid  was  the  result.  Kruger's  suspicions  of  British  designs 
on  the  independence  of  the  Transvaal  having  in  turn 
hardened  into  certainty,  he  was  more  determined  than  ever 
to  keep  the  immigrants  from  setting  foot  within  the  citadel 
of  power.  Meanwhile  the  resentment  of  the  Outlanders 
grew  into  hot  anger,  and  in  Sir  Alfred  Milner,  who  succeeded 
Lord  Rosmead  as  High  Commissioner  in  1897,  they  found  a 
far  more  powerful  champion  than  Jameson  or  Rhodes. 
The  "  helots  "  drew  up  a  monster  petition  to  the  British 
Government  for  the  redress  of  their  grievances,  and  the 
Cabinet,  after  full  deHberation,  resolved  to  adopt  and  press 
their  claims.  Sir  Alfred